Daily Graphic Editorials
Time to focus on hypertension
It has been described as the silent killer.
The statistics on the disease condition of hypertension (also known as high blood pressure) are scary.
Its prevalence has been increasing rapidly over the past few years.
A disease that was hitherto considered the preserve of the rich and the aged is now killing the young.
Figures reveal that children as young as 14 years are reporting high blood pressure.
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has disclosed that 622,849 hypertension and 24,781 stroke cases were recorded as of December 2022 through its District Health Information and Management Systems and that studies estimate that between 28 and 40 per cent of the adult Ghanaian population has hypertension.
The condition has killed many and snatched breadwinners from their families at the least expected time.
It has produced many orphans and suddenly changed the life and hope of children and other family members.
Hypertension also has serious life-changing effects, including stroke, heart failure and kidney failure.
Although the disease may be acquired through heredity, unhealthy lifestyle choices such as the lack of or inadequate regular physical activity, poor diet, tobacco use, alcohol use and adoption of sedentary lifestyles are said to be leading causes of hypertension and related fatalities.
Certain health conditions such as diabetes and obesity can also increase the risk of developing high blood pressure.
Worryingly, in spite of the devastating nature of hypertension, most people do not know they are hypertensive until the unfortunate happens.
Data says that more than one billion out of the global population of eight billion are hypertensive, with over half of these unaware of their condition.
From these revelations, therefore, the Daily Graphic pledges to use its platforms to help educate and disseminate the necessary information that will help the population to avoid the condition, or even when one has the condition, he/she will be able to live in a manner that the effects of the disease can be minimised.
On the occasion of the commemoration of World Hypertension Day, which is marked every May 17, the Daily Graphic reminds all that the hypertension situation around the world is dire.
It is reported that most patients visiting the emergency room with hypertension may not have been compliant with medications for reasons including religious beliefs, financial constraints and fear of side effects of prescribed drugs, and this has led to a high prevalence of about 56 per cent of people presenting with co-existing target-organ damage such as nerve problems, visual abnormalities, strokes and heart conditions.
It is thus imperative that hypertension is prevented or, at best, controlled to preserve the health of the population, which invariably directly affects productivity.
We urge everybody — men, women, the young and the elderly — to prioritise the adoption of lifestyle and behaviour changes to protect themselves from this dangerous condition.
We must be concious of our diet by avoiding the consumption of junk foods.
It would not be a bad idea for a campaign to be waged on the eating of junk foods by promoting the consumption of local foods, many of which are healthy and nutritious.
We take note of the campaign against indiscipline by the late Vice President Aliu Mahama and the campaign for the wearing of local fabrics during the J.A.
Kufuor Administration that caught on so well with the populace that ‘Friday Wear’ has become instituted.
In the same vein, the paper recommends a campaign from the highest level of political leaders which, we believe, will do the magic to bring down the worrying numbers of lifestyle diseases including hypertension.
Controlling hypertension does not only require lifestyle changes, but medication as well.
People on medication should commit to take their drugs.
They should avoid the temptation of relying on religious beliefs and quacks.
In tandem with this year’s theme for World Hypertension Day, the Daily Graphic encourages the population to make the measurement of their blood pressure a regular affair so that they can control it and live longer to contribute their quota fully to the development of their communities and the country at large.