Dr. Essel’s Pick of The Fatal Five

Sat, 12 Dec 2015 Source: Essel, Kojo Cobba

There have been many challenges this year and deciding on what in my opinion are the most fatal diseases was no walk in the park. I even considered financial/economic stress and DUMSOR stress but dropped them at the last minute. Maybe I should consider them again since they may be the root cause of many of the FATAL FIVE. We could also make STRESS the sixth point and list all our troubles there.

The mere mention of some diseases always invokes fear even in the anointed. People who have never seen the inside of a church will break into uncontrollable “tongues”. Even atheists scream “Jesus” when such a pronouncement is made. On countless occasions conversations such as this have occurred:

Doc: I think you may have diabetes.

Patient: Haaaa. Heeee----y. Haaba. Aye! doc what did you just say? Tofiakwa. God forbid………..

Dear friends, the doctor does not have the power to create disease with his tongue. Stay calm.

Many of such clients (patients) will not put in the necessary effort to take control of the situation; prayer camps become the mainstay, self-styled bus pharmacists and “radio doctors” prescribing concoctions are the go-to people.

Depending on where you find yourself, my pick of five may not be significant to you but bear in mind that even in remote areas far away from civilization, the scourge of lifestyle diseases is real. Our genes may have a role to play but we certainly have the power to positively influence our lives. HIV/AIDS, Lung disease, road traffic accidents and problems related to childbirth are extremely important and may make your list. Unfortunately they did not earn a call up this weekend.

My pick of fatal five may cause sudden death, sentence you to hours on end in a bed, drain not only your pocket and bank account but may even affect the national coffers. I don’t like the word coffers, it always reminds me of coffin and that is not a good thing. Many of these fatal five have a way of changing your life forever.

The following points will help you fight or prevent the fatal five.

1. Commit yourself to be healthy for life.

2. Be at peace with God and man – relieves undue stress.

3. Exercise regularly and appropriately.

4. Eat right and this includes a lot of fruits, vegetable and whole grains.

5. Drink adequate amounts of water – don’t wait to feel thirsty.

6. Get rest.

7. Stop Smoking. Minimize Alcohol.

8. Ensure Personal and Environmental Hygiene.

9. Get regular medical check-ups or screening.

10. If on medication, take as prescribed. If in doubt seek a second opinion.

The Fatal Five:

1. HEART & BLOOD VESSEL DISEASE (cardiovascular disease)

a. Undisputedly the world’s number 1 killer.

b. Sometimes the pathologist will be the first to diagnose heart disease in a young man. We often take pride in saying “I do not fall ill, I have not been to a hospital in five years”, watch that friend; your blood pressure could be on a mission to drive through the roof and your blood sugar could feed a village. Who knows, your blood vessels could also be clogged up and it will be only a matter of time when the undesirable happens.

c. How often do we hear of young, hardworking, fun-loving young men dying suddenly behind the wheel of their car? They looked perfectly well only a few minutes earlier.

d. Stroke is no respecter of age. People less than 40 years have become victims.

e. Remember it’s a priceless gift to know your numbers; give yourself a Christmas treat by checking your numbers (see below).


a. Many cancers seem to hunt us with a vengeance once we discover them. They will kill us if we do not hunt them and attack them anyway. In many cases medical science does a fairly good job when we detect them early.

b. Let us screen for breast, colon, prostate, cervical and testicular cancers routinely and consider any others that we may be at risk for. I know of the controversies surrounding breast and prostate screening but my candid advice is let’s keep screening but discuss with a knowledgeable health professional or team.

c. Fruits and vegetables, low red meat and low fat diets together with exercise may boost our immunity and reduce our risk for some cancers. In my opinion once cancer is diagnosed these good choices should be used as additives and NOT for treatment. Remember the cancers may be too aggressive for these lifestyle changes which like good financial investments take time to make an impact.


a. A disease notorious for affecting many organs in the body makes this “black” list. Though our genes may play a role we can influence this positively with the appropriate lifestyle modifications.

b. Appropriate eating habits, regular exercise, regular medical checks and when required taking the medications as prescribed will go a long way to help one manage this disease. Prevention follows the same guidelines except medication will not be needed in such a scenario.

c. Hypoglycaemia (blood sugar below normal level) which could occur while you are on medication to control diabetes can kill you instantly and warning signs such as tremors, headaches, blurred vision, sweating, severe hunger pangs and confusion should not be ignored. It is important at such times to eat or drink something sweet IMMEDIATELY.


a. The mosquito has cost some countries so much pain and hampered our development as well. Will the vaccine ever be the answer? Environmental hygiene currently remains an extremely important mode of prevention. Get rid of the pools of water and seek urgent medical care for all febrile illnesses.

b. Children, pregnant women and those who do not live in malaria endemic zones (non-immune) often have the worst outcome.


a. Poor personal and environmental hygiene such as not washing our hands with soap and water before meals, eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water may cause diarrhea and vomiting, which can lead to dehydration and even death. Remember the havoc Cholera can cause? Like Malaria, children are often the worst affected.

b. Can we ever end this without a word on the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease? It has a way of reminding us that it is probably the ultimate killing machine. We should continue to take precautions lest it creeps up on us again.

Send me an email with your best health advice for 2016, I will be featuring tips from readers in January 2016. Do add your name and location.


*Dr. Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.

Thought for the week – “80% of heart disease is curable!” – Essential Heart Guide 2012 (Mayo Clinic)

Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel

Moms’ Health Club/Health Essentials Ltd


Columnist: Essel, Kojo Cobba