How lifestyle choices exposes Nigerians to hypertension – NHF

Experts in the healthcare profession and the Nigeria Heart Foundation (NHF) have warned that more Nigerians, especially the youth are at risk of hypertension following unhealthy lifestyle choices adopted.

World Hypertension Day (WHD) is celebrated on May 17 every year to raise awareness of Hypertension and broaden the appropriate knowledge of people about Hypertension. The theme for the 2022 WHD is ‘Measure your blood pressure accurately, control it, live longer’.

The primary purpose of World Hypertension Day (WHD) is to educate the public and increase awareness of hypertension popularly termed High Blood Pressure (HBP). Globally, more than one billion people are known to have hypertension and the figure is estimated to increase to 1.5 billion by 2025.

Basden Onwubere, Chairman, NHF, Hypertension Committee, in a press conference to commemorate this year’s WHD 2022, said Nigerian youth are at risk of hypertension, especially those in the 18-23 age bracket based on their addictive consumption level.

“Of great concern is the fact that more than half of the individuals with hypertension are unaware. In many low-and-middle-income countries less than 40 percent are unaware. In some of these countries’ awareness levels are even less than 30 percent,” he said.

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According to Onwubere, hypertension and its cardiovascular complications are described as primary ‘co-morbidities’ (additional health burden in an individual already battling with a health issue).

“Cardiovascular Disease (heart disease) is the commonest cause of death in the adult population in Nigeria and hypertension is the number one heart disease affecting about 38 percent of the adult population. In addition, hypertension is the main risk for stroke, heart attack (coronary heart disease), chronic kidney disease, heart failure, abnormal heart rhythms and dementia,” he said.

Relevant government agencies in the health sector are also advised to ensure adequate prevention of avoidable deaths and mortality in the country. According to the experts, a critical first step for control of hypertension and achievement of the World Health Organisation (WHO) target 2025 for a 25 percent reduction in uncontrolled hypertension is to improve hypertension diagnosis.

Tola Atinmo, director, global health, said there should be more emphasis on diet, exercise and reduction in regular salt in-take.

Adebayo Adeyemi, a Nigerian professor of food science said, increase in food security could pose a risk factor which pre-exposes people to unhealthy food that can lead to hypertension.

Enitan Ademuson, director of programmes, NHF, in her closing remark said more awareness is needed on hypertension and urged the government to come up with new policy guideline to reduce sugar in-take, especially from energy drinks.

“Exercise is indeed medicine; Lifestyle modification can lead to genetic modification,” she said, calling on healthcare professionals to do more in areas of research on tangible data.

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