on mystery ailment
Sarawak Tribune - Thursday, 4 April, 2002
The death of a young actor in the Philippines last week has put the
spotlight on a mystery ailment which kills healthy Asian men in their
call it "bangungot" or the nightmare syndrome. Victims are heard
moaning just before they die, which is usually in the middle of the night,
doctors say. Romantic hero Ricardo Yan died in his sleep last Friday
at just 27 years of age.
said on Tuesday he died of haemorrhagic pancreatitis leading to cardiac
arrest. But there was no word on why the ailment should strike an
apparently healthy young man.
was on holiday at a beach resort with a group of friends. Autopsy results
showed he had drunk only a moderate amount of alcohol, equivalent to about
two bottles of beer, prior to his death. There was no evidence he had
taken any drugs.
doctors - who call bangungot the Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death
syndrome - said it generally strikes men between 30 to 40 years of age,
known victim was only 17. Women are usually not affected. "We have
not autopsied any woman who died
of bangungot," said Dr Edgardo Gueco, chief of the national police
on our observations, the victims had eaten heavily or drunk heavily before
going to sleep," he said in a television interview.
happened during sleep was a mystery because the bangungot victims never
woke up, cardiologist Erdie Fadreguilan of the state-run Philippine
General Hospital told Reuters.
findings were that something went wrong with the rhythm of the heart while
they were sleeping," Fadreguilan said, citing results of autopsies of
328 bangungot cases in the Philippines from 1957 to 1987.
their last moments, the victims were usually heard moaning or groaning in
their sleep, as if suffering from "some form of agony", he said.
had no way of knowing what happened because they did not survive."
still, bangungot usually claims its victims at about 3 o'clock in the
morning, doctors said.
said studies show bangungot cases occurred mainly in Southeast Asian
countries like the Philippines, Vietnam and Laos, but a similar illness
had been reported among Japanese men.
the United States, only Vietnamese refugees have suffered from the
condition, he said, but spurned a theory it could have a cultural or
if you move to different places, like the refugees going to the United
States, the men can still suffer from it," Fadreguilan said.
they move outside of their home country does not decrease the risk of them
suffering from it."
doctors believe a possible cause of the condition could be the high
carbohydrate diet of Asians, who eat rice as their staple.
no one has been able to pinpoint why rice should have any such effect on a
select few or why millions are unaffected.
Manila, thousands of unbelieving fans flocked to Yan's wake.
"This can't happen to him, this can't happen to me, this can't happen especially to him," Yan's long-time girlfriend actress Claudine Barretto told a television station. "I couldn't believe it." Reuters