World Hypertension day is celebrated annually on the 17th of May
The main aim of the day is to educate the public and increase awareness of hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure. Hypertension is a state in which blood vessels have constantly elevated pressure.
Hypertension is a major cause of a range of health problems such as strokes, heart attacks and kidney disease, and can also contribute to dementia. Many who suffer from hypertension are not aware that they have it as there can be no symptoms; often, people only find out after suffering a heart attack or stroke.
The World Hypertension League (WHL) organises World Hypertension day. WHL is an umbrella organisation composed of 85 hypertension societies and leagues from all over the world.
The theme for this year is Know Your Numbers, and the WHL would like to encourage as many people as possible to get involved in May Measurement Month. Operated screening sites will be setting up in a range of venues worldwide to check the blood pressure of as many people as possible.
Hypertension and Namibia – A study on risk factors for hypertension in Khomas
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are a growing global problem, accounting for 38 million deaths worldwide annually. According to the WHO, cardiovascular diseases account for most NCD deaths, totalling 17 million out of the 36 million deaths due to NCDs worldwide. Elevated blood pressure or hypertension is the leading global metabolic risk factor responsible for 18% of global deaths.
In 2017, Dianah Kaputjaza (a student at the University of Namibia) conducted a study on hypertension in Khomas region. She found that hypertension is a significant yet preventable risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. Khomas region has a hypertension prevalence of 57%, which is the highest in Namibia.
However, no analytical studies have been done to determine risk factors for hypertension in Namibia, even given these numbers. Kaputjaza conducted a study to determine lifestyle and socio-demographic factors associated with hypertension in Khomas region.
The report generated region-specific data which might be used in designing population and risk factor specific interventions for control of hypertension in the region, and the country at large. Her research showed the following:
- In Namibia, stroke, ischaemic heart disease and hypertensive heart disease are among the top 10 causes of death, accounting for 16.7% of all deaths in 2012.
- 44.2% of Namibians are hypertensive.
Risk factors that were found:
Being female, married or cohabitating and aged above 40 years was significantly associated with hypertension.
- Ethnicity – Employment status and ethnicity were not associated with hypertension.
- Tobacco use – All forms of tobacco use, including smokeless tobacco and exposure to second-hand smoke, exert a harmful effect on blood pressure and increase the risk for hypertension and CVDs.
- Alcohol use – Studies have found both a protective effect and harmful effect of alcohol consumption on hypertension
- Diet – An unhealthy diet consisting of high intakes of salt, saturated fat and trans-fat cholesterol and low intake of fish, fruits and vegetables is related to increased risk for CVD and hypertension.
- Physical activity – Regular physical activity reduces blood pressure in both normotensive and hypertensive people, with more significant decreases observed in the hypertensive people
- Overweight/obesity – Excess body weight is associated with an increase in arterial blood pressure, and this has been shown to account for 60 to 70 % of hypertension cases in HIC.
If you find yourself with a diagnosis of hypertension, it would be advisable to get a policy in place.
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