The world celebrates World Hypertension Day every May 17 to specifically draw attention to the seriousness of this silent killer disease. The theme for the 2017 celebrations, according to the World Hypertension League and International Society of Hypertension, is KNOW YOUR NUMBER, and had the goal of increasing high blood pressure (BP) awareness in all populations around the world.
According to the World Hypertension League, “Globally, increased blood pressure is the leading cause of deaths and disability.
“An estimated 18% of deaths (9.4 million) and 162 million years of life lost were attributed to increased blood pressure in 2010. Approximately four in 10 adults over age 25 have hypertension and in many countries another one in five have prehypertension”.
What is Hypertension?
Medicinenet.com describes hypertension or high blood pressure as “high pressure (tension) in the arteries, which are the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body”, or “A persistent blood pressure above 90 mm Hg between the heart beats (diastolic) or over 140 mm Hg at the beats (systolic)”.
Blood pressure is the force of your blood against the blood vessel walls. Having high blood pressure means that this force is higher than it should be, and could lead to health problems. One half of blood pressure-related disease occurs in people with higher levels of blood pressure even within the normal range according to World Hypertension League.
Hypertension can only be detected by a blood pressure test, usually done repeated over time before a formal declaration by a medical personnel of being hypertensive. It is more pronounced in low and middle-income countries partly due to poor maintenance of health checks.
In the present day Nigeria, though blood pressure checks are free, a greater percentage of people have a carefree attitude towards their health until they can no longer carry themselves. This posture needs to be discouraged in its entirety.
Causes of hypertension
Though high blood pressure is always more pronounced and more advocated for, low blood pressure (also known as hypotension) is also another heart related disease. Most times doctors cannot find a specific cause of hypertension, and this is known as essential hypertension. On the other hand, certain factors can increase the risk of developing hypertension, including being obese, high alcohol intake, eating a lot of salt, smoking, having diabetes and also ageing. Hypertension could also be from hereditary transmission as well as stress induced.
Globally, unhealthy diet is estimated to be related to about half of hypertension cases (About 30% related to increased salt consumption, and about 20% related to low dietary potassium, low fruit and vegetables). Physical inactivity is related to about 20% of hypertension and obesity is related to about 30% of hypertension.
Also, according to the WHO,
hypertension is responsible for an estimated 45% of deaths due to heart disease and 51% of deaths due to stroke globally, while the African region has the highest prevalence of hypertension estimated at 46% of adults aged 25 and above.
Nigeria and Hypertension
It is estimated that there is a prevalence rate of the disease in Nigeria of 30.6% among urban and 26.4% among rural dwellers. The awareness rate is however 17.4%.
While 20.8 million cases of hypertension were estimated to be in Nigeria among people aged at least 20 years in 2010, a further review of the data reveals that men are more likely to be at risk than women with a percentage of 30.7 to 25.2 respectively. It is estimated that Nigeria will have about 39.1 million cases in 2030 with a prevalence rate of 30.8%.
The best way to prevent hypertension is to as much as possible avoid the things that could trigger or put one at risk. This includes avoidance of too much salt consumption, limited consumption of alcohol and conscious and persistent weight reduction.
Other means of prevention include regularly exercising, adoption of relaxing and stress reduction techniques and reduction of fatty food consumption. Adoption of healthy life style is generally the way to be hypertension free for those who do not have it as a hereditary disease.
The United Nations has agreed to a 2025 goal of reducing hypertension by 25%.10