Hypertension, or elevated blood pressure, has been tagged a serious medical condition that significantly increases the risks of heart, brain, kidney and other diseases.
An estimated 1.13 billion people worldwide have hypertension, with two-thirds living in low- and middle-income countries, says World Health Organisation (WHO).
According to the organisation, blood pressure alone causes about 50 percent of Cardiovascular (CV) disease worldwide, and 10 to 30 per cent of adults in almost all countries suffer from the condition.
In Nigeria for instance, over 20 million people are suffering from high blood pressure across the country and this number is calculated as 30.7 per cent among men and 25.2 per cent among women, according to a study titled, “An estimate of the prevalence of hypertension in Nigeria.”
Sadly, half of the people living with hypertension are unaware of their condition, putting them at risk of avoidable medical complications such as heart attack, which occurs when the blood supply to the heart is blocked and heart muscle cells die from lack of oxygen; heart failure, which occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to other vital body organs and irregular heartbeat which can lead to a sudden death.
Hypertension can also cause serious damage to the heart, says WHO, as “Excessive pressure can harden arteries, decreasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. This elevated pressure and reduced blood flow can cause chest pain, also called angina.”
If no action is taken to improve high blood pressure and current trends continue, more lives will be lost to the condition, especially in this era of COVID-19 pandemic, say stakeholders, while advocating a combination of simple, cost effective national efforts and individual actions to reduce the condition.
Simple efforts like low intake of salt, high consumption of fruits and vegetables, being physically active on a regular basis, reduction in alcohol consumption and reduction in foods with high saturated fats and trans-fat diets, can help reduce high blood pressure, say stakeholders.
To manage the condition, they advised patients to reduce stress and ensure regular checking and treating of blood pressure with cost effective medication.
A Professor of Medicine and a consultant physician/cardiologist at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University & Teaching Hospital, Sokoto, Prof. Simeon Isezuo said the importance of using lifestyle modifications and drugs in managing high blood pressure so as to prevent cardiovascular diseases and untimely death, cannot be overemphasised.
At a webinar organised by Neimeth International Pharmaceutical Plc, to mark the 2021 World Hypertension Day (WHD), Isezuo listed diet and lifestyle modification as part of the treatment regimen to control the condition.
In his presentation, ‘Effective Hypertension Management – Current Trend’, Isezuo said, the development of high blood pressure in blacks was multifactorial involving interactions between obesity, salt sensitivity, among other causes.
The understanding of how these factors influence blood pressure will guide the development of treatment protocols and future therapy, he added.
The cardiologist said the low salt dietary approach to stop hypertension plus diuretic and calcium channel blockers are effective treatment in the management of hypertension.
Ambassador of Neimeth in managing the fight against hypertension, Dr. Kayode Adesola, said Nigerians in the south east need to pay more attention to their health, as 61 per cent of their population experience hypertension.
To control hypertension, Adesola said lot of lifestyle modifications should be promoted including the reduction of alcohol intake, using non-pharmacological interventions such as exercise, the consumption of healthy diet and stress management, among others.
Similarly, he stressed that pharmacological intervention was also necessary to control high blood pressure.
Adesola defined hypertension as blood pressure above 140/90, adding that the condition is considered severe if the pressure is above 180/120.
He said, “Blood pressure lowering medication should be recommended when blood pressure is 140/90. A more continuous monitoring of blood pressure was necessary, using the right measurement to ensure diagnosis. It gives the advantage to know when one has sustained an elevated blood pressure.”
While urging both health workers and individuals to be sensitive to blood pressure measurement, Kayode noted that most people do not access health facilities where the tracking of blood pressure was common.
He however said that a follow up on patients is key, as patients with high blood pressure should be placed on drugs that can control the pressure and they should be monitored closely.
Speaking on blood pressure medication, the product manager, Neimeth International Pharmaceutical, Plc, Charles Ekokotu said using medications to control hypertension could similarly reduce stroke risk.
According to him, anti-hypertensive medications including Amlover, Mini Plus, Norduet and Numoretic are some of the medications that can help in the control of hypertension.