#WorldHypertensionDay: Know your numbers – Independent Online

5 months ago Comments Off on #WorldHypertensionDay: Know your numbers – Independent Online


Cape Town – It is commonly regarded as a silent killer responsible for half of all strokes, 40 percent of heart attacks and about 60 percent of kidney failures – yet very few South Africans get tested for high blood pressure or hypertension.

Of those who know of their raised blood pressure,only a portion are on medication, and only a quarter of hypertensive patients achieve adequate control of the disease.

These disturbing figures that have prompted the national department of health, and the Heart and Stroke Foundation to embark on a massive testing campaign,starting today (Tuesday May 17).

Globally hypertension is receiving attention today on World Hypertension Day.

An initiative of the World Hypertension League, for the past 11 years, the day has been commemorated to promote public awareness of hypertension and to encourage citizens of all countries to prevent and control this silent killer.

Themed, “Know your numbers”, the league has called for a testing campaign that will test at least 3 million people around the world this week.

Dr Vash Mungal-Singh, chief executive of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, said given the numbers of affected people in South Africa, it was important that as many as possible were tested for high blood pressure.

“We have to address blood pressure from the top down, starting with improved diagnosis in people unknowingly suffering from this silent disease,” she said.

Mungal-Singh said in many ways South Africa was “experiencing a perfect storm of hypertension”.

“Our unique risk profile includes increasingly Western eating habits, decreasing levels of activity, low levels of diagnosis and treatment of hypertension, prevalent alcohol abuse, increasing obesity, malnutrition predisposing children to chronic diseases later in life, and genetic predisposition to high blood pressure,” she said.

Worldwide, about four in 10 adults older than 25 years have hypertension.

This means that nearly one billion people have hypertension.

In South Africa, the picture is much worse, with one in every three adults having hypertension – making South Africa one of the countries with the highest rates of hypertension worldwide.

In the Western Cape there are about 1 200 new cases of hypertension every month. Uncontrolled blood pressure caused strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, dementia, kidney failure and blindness.

A new study conducted in rural Limpopo on people between the ages of 35 and 74 years reported hypertension in 55 percent of participants – making this the highest prevalence recorded among the nine lower-middle income countries studied across Asia, Latin America and Africa.

Despite its prevalence, Mungal-Singh said 50 percent of South Africans with hypertension knew their blood pressure was high.

“This is partly because there are usually no symptoms and individuals don’t have their blood pressure checked on a regular basis,” she said.

Professor Melvyn Freeman, chief director for Non-Communicable Diseases at the national Department of Health said South Africans needed to know their blood pressure.

“We would like to invite all individuals over 18 years to go to their nearest clinic and have their blood pressure tested.

“Bring family members and friends and let us look out for each other this World Hypertension Day. Let us exceed the 3 million target,” he said.

People could have themselves screened at clinics, pharmacies or at private doctor’s rooms.

Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo encouraged all people in the Western Cape to adopt healthier lifestyles to prevent the effects of hypertension.

“If hypertension is detected early, it is possible to minimise the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke and kidney failure. Individuals who already have hypertension can manage their condition.

“Members of our communities must take ownership of their health by embracing healthy lifestyle and also go for regular check-ups,” she said.

* For more information on free screening, visit www.heartfoundation.co.za or call 0860 1 HEART (43278).

Cape Argus

[email protected]

#WorldHypertensionDay: Know your numbers – Independent Online