Sunday July 14, 2024

Health experts call for establishing hypertension awareness desks

By M. Waqar Bhatti
June 12, 2024
This representational image shows a healthcare worker checking the blood pressure of a patient. — Unsplash/File
This representational image shows a healthcare worker checking the blood pressure of a patient. — Unsplash/File

Warning that around 20 percent teenagers aged 15 years and above are suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure in Pakistan, health experts have called for establishing ‘discovering hypertension’ awareness desks in shopping centres, schools and colleges as well as during Friday prayers across the country.

They said on Tuesday that in addition to hundreds of thousands of teenagers, around 46 percent adults were suffering from high pressure, but they deplored that the majority of them were unaware of their health condition, which often led to serious complications, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, renal failure and others.

Speaking at a symposium titled “High Blood Pressure: A Silent Killer” held at the Institute of Cardiology, Dow International Medical College, Ojha Campus, experts called for supporting the ‘Discovering Hypertension’ initiative, which is aimed at screening one million people, including teenagers by June 30, 2025. The symposium was addressed by Dr Muhammad Tariq Farman, director of the Institute of Cardiology, Nursing Director Indus Hospital Hakim Shah, President Pakistan Hypertension League Prof Dr Nawaz Lashari, and Director Sindh Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases Dr Javed Akbar Siyal, and Dr Tahir Sagheer, director of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, was the guest of honour.

Prof Nawaz Lashari emphasised that high blood pressure is not just an issue for the elderly and that every individual must be aware of it. He advised young people to avoid using mobile phones half an hour before sleep and to get six to eight hours of rest to prevent falling prey to this condition.

Dr Lashari said increased use of tobacco and vapes are contributing factors to heart attacks among young people aged 21 to 25. He added that people are often engrossed in technology and mobile phones, leading to social isolation, which has become a significant factor contributing to this disease.

Dr Jawaid Akbar Siyal said research is being conducted on blood pressure patients in Pakistan. Currently, 11 percent of patients with high blood pressure in Pakistan have it under control, an improvement from the past rate of only three percent, thanks to increased awareness. Prof Dr Iftekhar Ahmed, principal of the Dow International Medical College, highlighted the importance of controlling blood pressure during examinations, noting that students with maintained blood pressure levels performed better due to lower anxiety.

Dr Zafar Iqbal Hyedry presented alarming statistics related to hypertension on both global and national scales. He said one in every three people worldwide suffers from hypertension, resulting in 8.5 million deaths annually. While this figure is concerning globally, the situation is particularly critical in developing countries, where two-thirds of the population grapple with hypertension.

He noted that in 1999, the hypertension risk factor was six percent, and now it is one percent because people don’t take precautions.

Dr Hyedry stated that Pakistan is lagging behind in controlling hypertension, with 43 percent of the population affected, of which only 11 percent have controlled blood pressure, while 44 percent remain undiagnosed. Notably, Africa has a staggering 46 percent of undiagnosed hypertension cases.

He emphasized that controlling hypertension by 20 percent by 2040 and achieving 50 percent progress could save more than 0.8 million lives and advised reducing salt intake, avoiding smoking, controlling obesity, and increasing physical activity to remain healthy and control this silent killer. Nursing Director Indus Hospital Hakim Shah discussed the role and importance of nurses in controlling and creating awareness about hypertension.