Health News of 2014-05-18

Hypertension a neglected disease?

Beyond knowing your blood pressure: hypertension a neglected disease? “Increased blood pressure is the leading risk for death and disability globally as highlighted in the recent global burden of disease study and emphasized by the World Health Organization at World Health Day (1). One of the major barriers to effective control of hypertension is simply that people are not aware their blood pressure is high. Yet simple affordable steps to incorporate routine blood pressure assessment into community programs and workplaces as well as all health care settings could play a major role.” - source WORLD HYPERTENSION LEAGUE (2014) The theme for World Hypertension Day, which falls on May 17th, has been “Know Your Blood Pressure” for a couple of years and it will remain the same over the next five (5) years. Many of us are aware that hypertension (high blood pressure) most often presents with no symptoms or signs (silent killer) and the only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to spend a few minutes of your precious time to have a professional check your blood pressure. Are we just COMPLACENT or do we think it cannot happen to us? What is the point of a country, company or individual investing in beautiful strategies, infrastructure et cetera when the manpower are at risk of a disease called hypertension yet no proactive steps are taken to address it? All our efforts could come to naught from the complications of high blood pressure. Many of us may be aware that: 1. Hypertension is the leading cause of death and morbidity (illness) in adults 2. Hypertension is a major cause of strokes, heart attacks and heart failures among several others and all these are extreme life-changing events. 3. High blood pressure is a common cause of lost days from work 4. High blood pressure is a major financial drain on individuals, companies and countries. So with this information at our disposal the urgent question is why do health professionals (including myself) do so little about this disease? We spew out heart-breaking statistics about hypertension but we are not proactive in getting people to check their blood pressures and do routine follow-up. Will our non-health related brothers and sisters be asking for too much if once a month we do free Hypertension Screening in our facilities as our social responsibility? What does it take for Corporate Bodies to ensure that all employees have checked their blood pressures? I am sure it will not be too far-fetched to ask that these companies also sponsor Hypertension Screening for the less priviledged in their community. Churches and other religious bodies also have a large following. Imagine the lengths people go to when their religious leaders instruct them. Religious leaders should embark on a programme to get all their members screened for hypertension within the next three (30 months. Oh! Those we elected into power as well as their “supporting staff”, you also have a role to play; we don’t even have to reinvent the wheel. Pick a month each year and ensure aggressive education and at least free blood pressure checks. We will all be saving in the long term. Why can’t it be mandatory that your health insurance or driver’s licence can only be renewed if you have a certified Blood Pressure reading? It does not matter if the blood pressure is high or low. At least let us make sure we are checking it and “we know our blood pressure”, it will set the ball rolling. It appears we can never ban salt on our restaurant and chop bar tables. Extra SALT IS A KILLER!! …….As individuals we cannot be left off the hook. We are too busy working to spend less than an hour queuing to have our blood pressure checked. What if we suffered a stroke? In such a scenario we will not be returning to work anytime soon. Most of us don’t seem to care; even when the blood pressure checks are being done within 2 feet of our location we will make excuses to avoid the sphygmomanometer. I am not asking you to be unnecessarily inquisitive but it will be beneficial to know if people in your family suffer from hypertension, other heart diseases or any other medical challenge. Can we find out what may have killed a family member especially if the person died at a young age? Find out! Maybe that will be the trigger to get you to check your blood pressure or other health condition. Irrespective of the way you feel, even if your blood pressure has always been normal, even if you are too busy or too tired or you exercise daily so you do not think it’s necessary. No matter the well rehearsed EXCUSE you may come up with, kindly do me a favour and check your blood pressure TODAY! I can’t leave without reminding you that it is IMPORTANT to: 1. Check your Blood Pressure 2. Find out if you have or had a family member with hypertension or other heart disease 3. Exercise most days of the week (the reduction in blood pressure caused by exercise lasts for only 72 hours so consistency is the name of the game) 4. Decrease your salt and fat intake 5. Increase fruit and vegetable intake 6. Avoid smoking; both actively and passively and reduce alcohol consumption 7. Ensure your weight is ideal for your height. AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI) Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel, MBChB, MBA, FT Moms’ Health Club ( *Dr Essel is a medical doctor and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition. Thought for the week – “Join me on Saturday 24th May at 6.30am when we set off from the Accra Mall. We will walk, dance and then educate ourselves about hypertension and finally check our blood pressures” Sources/References: • World Hypertension League website.Source: Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
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