HYPERTENSION: A disastrous Epidemic

The World Health Report identified hypertension, or high blood pressure, as the third ranked factor for disability-adjusted life years. Hypertension is one of the primary risk factors for heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death worldwide.

Sometimes these statistics are just figures on a paper or on a screen and we don’t feel the full effect or reality. I am writing this post because I AM WORRIED! Worried about the increasing prevalence of hypertension.

Recently my colleagues and I embarked on cardiac health outreaches at different locations across Lagos, Nigeria. We chose religious institutions to reach our target audience (because you can be sure to find Nigerians of various demographics here).

It was indeed alarming to discover that about 70% of people above 40 had blood pressure numbers way above normal (ranging between 140 /90 mmHg to 200 / 120 mmHg). We discovered that majority of people within this category hardly ever checked their blood pressure and as such were ignorant of their high blood pressure numbers, others confessed to being on medication but were non-compliant.

Following this I decided to come up with a problem list and factors that contribute to the growing prevalence of hypertension

  • None or infrequent blood pressure checks
  • No follow up care after prescription of anti hypertensive medications
  • Poor clinical management
  • Poor medication compliance
  • Superstitious believes / myths about medications

Ways to Check this …

  • Check your blood pressure regularly (if you are above 40, check more frequently)
  • If you have normal blood pressure
  • numbers …. KEEP CHECKING!!!
  • If you have been diagnosed with hypertension and prescribed anti hypertensives, know the name of your medication, ask your doctor or healthcare provider for more details)
  • Be compliant with your medication (take it at the appropriate time and at the appropriate dose, not when you feel like)
  • Visit your doctor regularly to review your medication (don’t wait for 5 years before seeing your doctor for a review)
  • Ask your doctor if you have any questions, not your brother, uncle, pastor … your doctor!!!
  • Wether you have been diagnosed with hypertension or not. Ensure you maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy, engaging in regular physical activity, have adequate sleep, manage stress and stressors.

N:B: Anyone at any age can be hypertensive. Hypertension can occur in both young and elderly people.

Next post:

The next few blog posts will focus on the dangers of hypertension. We would discuss “Why it is important for your blood pressure to remain within the normal limits” and try to answer the questions …

  • Who can develop hypertension ?
  • What happens if my blood pressure is not under control?
  • What to do after I have been diagnosed with hypertension

Thanks for reading ……

Juliet E

Cardiac Physiologist

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