BY VICTORIA OJEME

ABUJA- Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, said Thursday that over 1.5 billion people would have high blood pressure by 2025 if necessary measures were not taken.

Prof. Chukwu, who made this disclosure at press conference in Abuja marking the World Heart Day, said one in every three adults over the age of 25 was at risk of the non-communicable disease.

The Minister, who was represented on the occasion by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Fatima Bamidele, said high blood pressure was one of the biggest single risk factors resulting in heart disease and stroke, which he described as the world’s number one killer.

He also said the number of those affected by high blood pressure was estimated to increase by 50 percent in the coming years, while the national prevalence of hypertension is estimated to be 20 per cent.

To reduce the burden of the diseases, he said individuals throughout the world would have to learn about the risk factors and take vital steps to reduce their own and family’s risk.

He said: “As you are aware, economic transition, urbanization, industrialization and globalization bring about lifestyle changes and risk factors that promote heart diseases. These risk factors include tobacco use, physical inactivity and unhealthy diet.

“The burden of heart disease can be prevented and reduced by adopting some actions such as banning smoking tobacco in your home to improve your own and children’s heart health, increase intake of fruits and vegetables while reducing salt and sugar intakes, engage in physical activities and visit a healthcare professional at least yearly to measure blood pressure, glucose level and body mass index.”

He said cardiovascular diseases claim ed17.1 million lives yearly, noting that “it causes as many deaths as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and diabetes plus all forms of cancer and chronic respiratory diseases combined.

“Currently, one third of global deaths are caused by cardiovascular diseases and 79 percent of them occur in low and medium income countries including Nigeria.”

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