WHO warns about silent killer hypertension as experts stipulate causes, treatments

THE World Health Organisation (WHO) released its first-ever report on the devastating global impact of high blood pressure along with recommendations on the ways to win the race against this silent killer.

The report shows approximately four out of every five people with hypertension are not adequately treated, but if countries can scale up coverage, 76 million deaths could be averted between 2023 and 2050. Report says hypertension affects one in three adults worldwide.

This common, deadly condition leads to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney damage and many other health problems. High blood pressure is blood pressure that is higher than normal. Your blood pressure changes throughout the day based on your activities.

Having blood pressure measures consistently above normal may result in a diagnosis of high blood pressure (or hypertension). The higher your blood pressure levels, the more risk you have for other health problems, such as heart disease, heart attack and stroke.

The number of people living with hypertension (blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher or taking medication for hypertension) doubled between 1990 and 2019, from 650 million to 1.3 billion. Nearly half of people with hypertension globally are currently unaware of their condition. More than three-quarters of adults with hypertension live in low- and middle-income countries. Experts say overweight or obesity is one of the main causes that can lead a person to have high blood pressure.

A Medical Doctor from Buguruni Hospital, Ms Rachel Mwinuka says drinking too much alcohol or coffee (caffeine-based drinks) increases a risk of getting hypertension.

“When someone drinks a lot of caffeine-based drinks he/she is at the risk of getting high blood pressure which is not good to someone’s health,” the doctor says. Dr Rachel recommends that if a person is addicted to caffeine-drinks he/she should quit because they are not good in our bodies due to the fact that they cause harm to our health.

She adds up and says eating too much salt and not eating enough fruit and vegetables is another thing that increases a risk of getting high blood pressure which is literally not good for our health.

“It is estimated that we need about 500 mg of sodium daily for these vital functions. But too much sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke,” she says.

Dr Rachel says the only thing that will help people to abstain from this complication is to avoid things that lead to the disease itself. Also, according to Dr Rachel she says kidney diseases, diabetes and longterm kidney infections are some of the complications that lead to high blood pressure.

“When a person has some of these problems basically a particular person can be at the risk of experiencing high blood pressure for example in terms of kidney diseases we all know that kidneys play a key role in keeping your blood pressure in a healthy range therefore we must understand diseased kidneys are less able to help regulate blood pressure,” she notes.

She recommends that people who have complications that can cause high blood pressure should seek medical attention which will help them.

A medical specialist from Lawate Dispensary in Dar es Salaam, Dr Jacob Adam says high blood pressure can often be prevented or reduced by eating healthily, maintaining a healthy weight.

“Healthy diet eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fiber, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruit and vegetables also helps lower blood pressure,” she says.

Dr Adam says physical activity can help keep a person at a healthy weight and lower somebody’s blood pressure. “For example, the ‘Physical Activity Guidelines’ for Americans recommends that adults get at least 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or bicycling, every week,” he says.

He also recommends people with smoking habits to quit, in which he says smoking raises blood pressure and puts a person at higher risk for heart attack and stroke.

“If you do not smoke, do not start. If you do smoke, quitting will lower your risk for heart disease. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you quit,’’ he advises.

Dr Adam says getting enough sleep is important to your overall health and enough sleep is part of keeping your heart and blood vessels healthy.

“Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.” Experts say high blood pressure usually has no symptoms, so the only way to know if you have it is to get your blood pressure measured.

Talk with your health care team about how you can manage your blood pressure and lower your risk.

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