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 •Reveals Why HYPERTENSION Is On The Rise

On May 17, 2022, Nigeria joined the rest of the world to mark World Hypertension Day (WHD). But it’s not all bloom, as they say.

There’s a little bit of gloom, as figures released by the Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) in 2021 revealed that 76.2 million Nigerians are hypertensive while only one-third of this figure (about 23 million) are on treatment.

The Executive Director, Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF), Dr Kingsley Kola Akinroye, told The Guardian that the prevalence of hypertension is about 38.1 per cent (76.2 million out of an average population of 200 million people).

So, what are the causes of this rise in figures? Why are more and more Nigerians becoming hypertensive? Dr Emmanuel Daudu, the Medical Director of Glad Tidings Medical Centre, Ipaja – Lagos explains the reasons to Contributing Editor, IYABO OYAWALE.

Why is hypertension known as the silent killer?

Hypertension is known as the silent killer because most of the time, it does not have any signs or symptoms. So, the first complication can be sudden death. This is why it is called the silent killer.

What is the normal blood pressure and at what point do we say somebody has high blood pressure?

The normal blood pressure is between 110 to 120 over 80, depending on whether the individual is a woman or a man. The blood pressure is usually lower in men. In women, you can say 110/70 is normal.

At what point do we say somebody has high blood pressure?

If there is a sustained high blood pressure over and above 130/85, we can say the person is hypertensive.

What causes hypertension, apart from the high level of salt intake?

High blood pressure can be divided into two types. There is a type called essential hypertension and the other one is called secondary hypertension. For essential hypertension, it’s the one we say there’s no known cause. The cause is unknown and is responsible for about 90% of adult hypertension. People with essential hypertension also have a family history of hypertension. For the other type which you can say the cause is known, it could be associated with pathology, body sickness like kidney disease can actually lead to hypertension in adults and even in children. People that have urinary tract infections or have diseases that are abnormalities from childbirth can also lead to hypertension. Drugs can also lead to hypertension. Some people may be taking some drugs like steroids, or pain relievers, when they take it from time to time, it can lead to hypertension. Some people develop hypertension during pregnancy. A sedentary lifestyle also leads to hypertension. Sitting down for too many hours is another contributory factor.

You didn’t mention salt?

Yes, you said apart from the diet. But I want you to talk about the role of salt in hypertension.

Salt is one of the major contributory factors when you’re considering diet. Excessive salt intake should not be encouraged. For instance, people who add salt after food is served on the table. That one can cause hypertension if it’s the lifestyle of such people. Excessive salt intake should be avoided.

How can hypertension be prevented?

To prevent hypertension, we need to look at our lifestyle and dietary intake. We should do away with excessive salt intake. People should also avoid foods that are fatty in nature like red meat. They do have adverse effects on the blood vessels. People should avoid sugary drinks and eat more vegetables and fruits. They should also increase their water intake. Instead of too many carbohydrates and fat, people should consume more protein. Smoking and alcohol should also be avoided to prevent hypertension. People should also avoid sustained stress. Regular exercise would also help. Brisk walking or any form of exercise that would make one sweat within 30 minutes to help check their weight. Obesity is a risk factor for hypertension. People should also avoid sitting for too long. Sitting for 5 hours or more a day is a major contributory factor to obesity and obesity also translates to hypertension. That’s why hypertension is on the increase these days, more than ever before. People can sit down many hours in the office without having to stand up because now you have Internet and phone. With these facilities, you can call people everywhere. In the past, if you needed something in the office, you’ll get up to pick it but now, you’ll call for it. We sit down to watch TV for hours, surf the Internet, we browse on our phones, etc.

When untreated, what does hypertension lead to?

When untreated, hypertension can lead to heart failure, heart attack, and stroke, and the person would become paralyzed and disability can set in from there. Some people recover from it, and some do not recover. Some people recover partially. For some, it can lead to death. Some patients sleep and do not wake up because they’re hypertensive without treatment.


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