Magazine article New African

Komla Dumor's High Blood Pressure

Magazine article New African

Komla Dumor's High Blood Pressure

Article excerpt

Dr Felix I. D. Konotey-Ahulu gives a medical insight into what caused the sudden death of the BBC news anchor, Komla Afeke Dumor, on 18 January 2014.

Baffour Ankomah's detailed tribute (NA, Feb) to Komla Afeke Dumor was. medically, eye-opening. It is a pity I did not have the pleasure of ever meeting this man who, by all accounts, was a remarkable person. Baffours tribute enables me to conclude that Komla Dumor suffered from Jonathan Hubert Addy's Homozygous Recessive Ghanaian Essential Hypertension (JHAHRGEH). But what on earth is that?

Professor Jonathan Addy is a Ghanaian from the Ga ethnic group, educated at Mfantsipim School and London University, where he qualified as a doctor, graduating MB BS. He went back to Ghana to work at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra where he was my colleague. Through meticulous research, he proceeded to London University's Doctorate in Medicine (MD) and became a member, then fellow of The Royal College of Physicians, London.

Doing what is called epidemiological work with some families in Accra who had not just high blood pressure, but "very severe high blood pressure" going back several generations, J. H. Addy discovered that if by age 37 a Ghanaian had severe high blood pressure (severe hypertension), and there were none of the known causes of high BP, then the person would have and BP contributions from both father and mother who themselves did not necessarily have any BP problems at all.

This phenomenon, especially the cut-off age of 37 years had not been observed anywhere before, so he published his findings in the Ghana Medical Journal in 1990 (Volume 24. pp. 164-169). The then editor did me the great honour of requesting an editorial from me to cover the publication - an editorial that I called: The Genetics of Ghanaian High Blood Pressure (pp. 160-163 in the same volume). It Ghana were Britain, the publication would be world news. Later, The Lancet, the oldest and arguably the leading international medical journal in the world, had an impressive article on hypertension written by a well-known specialist and professor of postgraduate doctors in the UK but did not allude to the Ghanaian findings. Prof Jonathan Addy then wrote to The Lancet mentioning the features of what he himself had found.

The Lancet never publishes rubbish, the world class editor usually rejecting over 80% of material sent to him for publication. …

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