By Gabriel Olawale

The World Health Organisation, WHO, has revealed that 46 percent of adults in the  African region countries are hypertensive with adult males tending to have a higher mean systolic blood pressure than adult females.

The report  has Nigeria topping the list of males and females with highest percentage of adults followed by Ghana, Seychelles, Sao Tome and Principe, and Cabo Verde.

The gender comparison data rated Nigeria adult high with 51 percent for males and 49 percent for female hypertension, followed by Ghana with 41 percent male and 38 percent female.

“Seychelles has 44 percent male and 36 percent female; Sao Tome and Principe has 41 percent male and 36 percent female while Cabo Verde record 44 percent male and 34 percent female.” The global average for the number of people suffering from the condition was about 40 percent, the WHO said.

The WHO blamed increasing urbanisation and unhealthy lifestyles for the rise in cases.

The study reaffirms that hypertension remains a major problem, with the percentage of adults who are hypertensive ranging from 16 to 40 percent with a median of 31 percent in 36 STEPwise surveys conducted in the region.

The five countries with the highest prevalence of hypertension were Seychelles (40 per cent), Cabo Verde (39 per cent), Sao Tome and Principe (39 per cent), Ghana (37 per cent), Niger (36 per cent) and Nigeria (35 per cent). Meanwhile, the five countries with the lowest prevalence of raised blood pressure were Mali (16 per cent), Eritrea (17 per cent), Democratic Repulic of the Congo (Kinshasa, 17 per cent), Cameroon (17 per cent) and Togo (19 per cent).

High blood pressure was often detected too late and was a silent killer, it added. If lifestyles do not change, more people in Africa could die from chronic illnesses, including diabetes and cancer, than infectious disease by 2030, the WHO said.

Surprising result

The report’s author, Abdikamal Alisalad, said the level of unhealthy habits in many African nations had come as a shock.

“We were surprised because we thought we would not see this kind of situation currently. We were expecting it maybe 30 or 40 years from now.”

He attributed the rise in non-communicable diseases to changes in developing societies.

“People are moving from the rural areas, going to urban, metropolitan areas. The middle-income group is growing, life expectancy is also growing.”

“Treating non-communicable diseases is costly, so it is in the economic interest of every country to support prevention campaigns.”

Uncontrolled hypertension or high pressure can result in more serious health issues including memory loss, heart attack, brain damage, eyes damage, stroke, atherosclerosis, and kidney damage.

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