How lifestyle choices put Nigerians at risk for hypertension – NHF

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Experts from the health profession and the Nigeria Heart Foundation (NHF) have warned that more Nigerians, especially young people, are at risk of hypertension as a result of adopting unhealthy lifestyle choices.

World Hypertension Day (WHD) is observed on May 17 every year to raise awareness about hypertension and expand people’s proper knowledge about hypertension. The WHD 2022 theme is “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer”.

The main purpose of World Hypertension Day (WHD) is to educate the public and raise awareness about hypertension commonly known as high blood pressure (BPH). Globally, more than one billion people are known to suffer from hypertension and this figure is expected to rise to 1.5 billion by 2025.

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

“What is very worrying is that more than half of people with hypertension do not know it. In many low- and middle-income countries, less than 40% don’t know. In some of these countries awareness levels are even below 30%,” he said.

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According to Onwubere, hypertension and its cardiovascular complications are described as primary “comorbidities” (additional burden on the health of an individual already struggling with a health problem).

“Cardiovascular disease (heart disease) is the most common cause of death among the adult population in Nigeria and hypertension is the number one heart disease affecting about 38% of the adult population. In addition, hypertension is the main risk stroke, heart attack (coronary artery disease), chronic kidney disease, heart failure, abnormal heart rhythm and dementia,” he said.

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

Tola Atinmo, director of global health, said more emphasis should be placed on diet, exercise and reducing regular salt intake.

Adebayo Adeyemi, a Nigerian professor of food science, said increased food security could be a risk factor that pre-exposes people to unhealthy foods that can lead to hypertension.

Enitan Ademuson, Director of Programmes, NHF, in her closing remarks said that more awareness is needed about hypertension and urged the government to come up with new policy guidelines to reduce sugar consumption, especially in energy drinks.

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

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