AS Nigeria joins the rest of the world Sunday to mark the World Health Day, medical doctors and pharmacists, under the aegis of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) have decried the rising number of hypertension (also known as high blood pressure) cases in the country with its attendant complications —stroke, heart attack, blindness and kidney failure.
Reports also indicate that more Nigerian men suffer high blood pressure than their female counterparts due to reasons attributable to lifestyles.
This revelation was made at a press conference organised by the Nigerian Medical Students Association of Nigeria (NMSAN) to mark the World Health Day in Benin City.
National President of the association, Bashir Maru, said one in three adults worldwide are affected by high blood pressure and implicated in over 18 per cent of death globally adding that poorer people are worse off.
“For Nigeria, about 22 per cent of the population are affected by high blood pressure, and it is called a silent killer, because it doesn’t show signs or symptoms till it might be too late.
“It causes blindness, irregular heartbeat or eventual heart failure. It can be countered by reducing high salt intake and high calorie food and avoiding sedentary (inactive) lifestyle.”
According to the bodies, the number of Nigerians living with high blood pressure is estimated at about 56 million, even as the World Health Organisation (WHO) calls for intensified efforts to prevent and control hypertension.
They also raised alarm over the proliferation in Nigerian markets of fake blood pressure measuring devices and popular diets like some brands of noodles that account for 61 percent of daily salt requirement in the smallest packs0.
The associations further made known their concerns over some newly promoted brands of soluble paracetamol with about 450mg of sodium per tablet, which transcends 2.7g daily when six tablets are taken a day, a level considered inimical to the health of hypertension patients.
In a statement released Saturday, president of NMA, Dr. Osahon Enabulele, said, “the prevalence of high blood pressure is at its peak in some low-income countries in Africa, with over 40 percent of adults in many African countries at risk of being affected.
“A recent community-based study of rural and semi urban population in Enugu, Nigeria, put the prevalence of hypertension in Nigeria at 32.8 percent while a meta-analytical study published recently estimated the country wide prevalence to be between 12.4 and 34.8 percent. The disturbing reality of this statistics is that between a staggering 20,088,000 and 56,376,000 Nigerian citizens are hypertensive.”
Enabulele said the prevalence of hypertension is also increasing globally. “In 2000, 972 million people had hypertension with a prevalence rate of 26.4 percent. These are projected to increase to 1.54 billion affected individuals and a prevalence rate of 29.2 percent in 2025. Incidence rates of hypertension range from three to 18 percent depending on the age, gender, ethnicity, and body size of the population studied,” he said.
The PSN president, Olumide Akintayo, said the risk of developing the complications of hypertension such as heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure is higher than other cardiovascular risk like diabetes. Akintayo, however, said high blood pressure is both preventable and treatable.
The NMA recommended the promotion of healthy lifestyles to combat the rising cases of hypertension, and called on the federal government and all state and local councils to declare a public holiday/free day of health check-up for all Nigerians every six months, with effective measures and incentives put in place to encourage compliance.
Enabulele alerted on the proliferation of fake blood pressure measuring meters in the country. He said since hypertension management depends mainly on accurate measurement of blood pressure, efforts should be made to sanitise the blood pressure (BP) equipment supplies and marketing sector.
According to the WHO, one in three adults worldwide have high blood pressure. The proportion increases with age from, one in 10 people in their 20s and 30s to five in 10 people in their 50s.
Worldwide, more than 7.5million deaths are attributed to the condition, about 12.8 per cent of all deaths. This accounts for 57 million Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYS), which accounted for about 3.7 per cent of total DALYS.
The WHO noted that high blood pressure is estimated to affect more than one in three adults aged 25 and over, or about one billion people, and Africa has the highest prevalence of hypertension (46 per cent of adults) while the lowest is the Americas (35 per cent of adults).
Interestingly for Africa and other poor economies, the report further showed a direct relationship between income level and hypertension. Overall, high-income countries have lower hypertension prevalence (35 per cent of adults) compared to low and middle-income groups (40 per cent of adults), thanks to successful multi-sectoral public policies and better access to health care.
JD:This is worrying and doesn’t look too good at all.we all have to develop healthy lifestyles since we all realize that should anything untoward happy,you are on your own as our governments “have bound us over to the phillistines