On May 17th every year, World Hypertension Day is celebrated all over the world to bring more awareness to the importance of measuring and monitoring blood pressure and increasing awareness about hypertension. It was organized by Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) which was founded by the World Health Organization in 1993.
WHAT IS HYPERTENSION?
Hypertension according to the Eight Joint National Committee (JNC 8) is regarded as a systolic blood pressure greater than 140 or a diastolic blood pressure greater than 90. There are no symptoms for hypertension and that is why it is widely regarded as a silent killer.
BURDEN OF HYPERTENSION
Globally, there are over one billion people living with hypertension which most living in developing countries. There are also over 46% of adults living with hypertension that are unaware of their status. In Africa, nearly half of those aged 25 years and above are hypertensive (>150 million adults), and an estimated 50 million adults have very substantively increased BP (>160/100 mm Hg). It also used to be associated with old age. However, 1 in 4 adults aged 20 – 44 are hypertensive.
CAUSES OF HYPERTENSION
- There is no single, direct cause of hypertension. It has however been linked to a myriad of factors. They include:
- Modifiable risk factors: unhealthy diets (excessive salt consumption, a diet high in saturated fat and trans fats, low intake of fruits and vegetables), physical inactivity, consumption of tobacco and alcohol, and being overweight or obese.
- Non-modifiable risk factors: a family history of hypertension, age over 65 years and co-existing diseases such as diabetes or kidney disease.
- There is no cure for hypertension. However lifestyle modification, regular medications and follow up can help with management.
- Lifestyle modifications include: eating a healthy, low-salt diet, quitting tobacco, eating more vegetables and fruits, routine blood pressure check.
- Be more physically active, which can include walking, running, swimming, dancing or activities that build strength, like lifting weights.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
- Talk about it. Raising more awareness about hypertension will help early detection and prevent complications
- Reducing hypertension prevents heart attack, stroke and kidney damage, as well as other health problems.
- Take medicines as prescribed by your health care professional.