Jos – The Permanent Secretary in the Plateau State Ministry of Health, Dr Elias Pede, said in Jos on Wednesday that about 41 per cent of Nigerians had been confirmed to be hypertensive.
“Based on current research, 41 per cent of Nigerians are hypertensive. The scary aspect is that that figure is expected to increase over time,’’ Pede said while briefing newsmen on this year’s Hypertension Day.
He described hypertension as “a major public health concern’’, explaining that the prevalence was higher among the low income segment of the population.
“Research has also shown that victims range around 40 per cent of adults in African countries with some as young as 25,” he added.
The permanent secretary cautioned against uncontrolled high blood pressure, noting that it heightened the risk of heart attack, stroke, diabetes and kidney failure.
Pede defined hypertension as raised blood pressure above the normal range for sex or age.
“Most people are hypertensive, it affects one in every three adults. The unfortunate thing about it is that if it is not detected early and if left untreated, it can cause heart attack, stroke or death.”
According to him, high blood pressure occurs when the force of blood pumping through the blood vessel is higher than it should be.
“In fact, one out of every three adults worldwide is hypertensive. Globally, hypertension is estimated to cause 7.5 million deaths annually, representing 12 per cent of all deaths, hence the need for a renewed effort and an urgent action to tackle the scourge is paramount,” he stated.
He described hypertension as a “silent killer’’ because its symptoms are not easily detected until after it had caused much damage that could manifest in heart attack, stroke, diabetes and kidney failure.
Pede said that the risk of hypertension increased with smoking, high alcohol intake, stress, anxiety, diet high in salt and fat, processed food and a lack of or inadequate exercise.
He cautioned against excessive alcohol intake and diets high in salt as they could make the body to retain more fluid which makes the heart work harder.
“People should also inculcate the act of exercising, maintaining a healthy body weight, eating adequate diet and avoiding tobacco; they should also check their blood pressure regularly to ascertain when it is high.’’
The permanent secretary said that government had commenced the creation of greater awareness of the disease by sensitising the public on the causes and consequences of hypertension and how it could be prevented.
“Government is also making blood pressure measurements affordable and easily accessible to all,’’ he said.
He advised adults to consistently check their blood pressure and follow the advice from health care professionals.
The News Agency of Nigeria(NAN) reports that World Health Day, which is always observed on April 7, had the them “High Blood Pressure” as its theme for this year.