As NHF says nutrition, screening central in addressing condition
By Chioma Obinna
To mark this year’s World Hypertension Day with the theme:” Measure Your Blood Pressure, Control It, Live Longer”, cardiovascular experts have called on the Federal Government to subsidised cost of automated High Blood Pressure machines even as they posited that nutrition remains central in addressing heart disease and hypertension.
In their separate submissions at a press conference organised by the Nigeria Heart Foundation, NHF, to mark the day in Lagos, the experts noted that the prevalence of hypertension was still rising in the country, adding that, ‘knowing your numbers’ and appropriate nutrition was key to controlling hypertension.
In his address, the Chairman of the NHF Hypertension Committee, Professor Basden Onwubere said globally, more than one billion people are known to have Hypertension and the figure is estimated to increase to 1.5 billion by 2025.
He said of great concern was the fact that more than half of the individuals with Hypertension (SBP ≥140 mm Hg, DBP≥90 mm Hg) are unaware of it.
“In the Low- and Middle-Income Countries less than 40 percent are unaware. In some of these countries, awareness levels are even less than 10 percent. A nationwide survey in Nigeria published about two decades ago by Akinkugbe et al showed an awareness level for Hypertension of 30 percent and recent publications have not shown any significant improvement. This low level of awareness has given it the name: “The Silent Killer.”
He said in Nigeria, hypertension was the number one Heart Disease affecting nothing less than 30 percent of the adult population. Speaking on the theme, he said Measure Your Blood Pressure, Control It, Live Longer was chosen to address the current statistics showing uncomfortably low awareness and poor control of HBP.
He urged the government to use the opportunity to subsidised automated High Blood Pressure machines which he said cost has skyrocketed in the last few years.
He lamented that halves of the hypertensive patients in the country were ignorant of their status.
“Governmental Agencies in the Health Sector are also advised to ensure adequate prevention
of avoidable deaths and morbidity in the country.
He said hypertension has been noted to be more prevalent in COVID-19 infected individuals especially those with severe forms of the infection.
“There are on-going studies on the possible effects of some of the drugs used for hypertension treatment. The world-wide Lockdown of social and economic activities during this era significantly affected the control of HBP particularly in countries such as Nigeria where the control levels were abysmally low in the pre-COVID-19 period. This economic effect of the pandemic is of great concern.
NHF is committed to improving the health of Nigerians in various areas of health concerns and has several programmes to actualise this.
Speaking the Executive Director of NHF, who said Food was central to heart disease and hypertension, added that Nigerians intake of salt was not going down.
“Our intake of salt is not going down in this country. Salt is the number one poison that adds to hypertension. We would have been happy if our government had allowed us to have a regulation on salt intake. We need a law that will regulate the amount of salt in food available in super markets. There are countries that have that. We need to regulate salt intake.
“The more we take vegetable, the more healthy we are. Governments should know that awareness of hypertension is still very poor, access should be given to people for diagnosis and treatment.
He further urged government at all levels to invest in Primary Healthcare Centres and make drugs available for people.”
Akinroye stated that access should be provided for Nigerians to measure their blood pressure accurately to control HBP for them to live longer.
Throwing light that many clinics have shut down due to COVID-18, he lamented that the high cost of drugs for hypertensive stating that most hypertensive drug producers have packed from Nigeria.
Akinroye, also urged the Federal government to invest in drugs in all the Primary Health Centres, PHCs across the country with a view to making hypertension management accessible to Nigerians.
He also stressed the need for Nigerians to embrace physical activities as part of efforts towards preventing hypertension.
Akinroye also recommended a high intake of vegetables and fruits to key hypertension at bay.