50 to 70 per cent of Ghanaians have never checked their blood pressure

BY: Seth J. Bokpe

The Ghana Health Service (GHS) says fifty to seventy per cent of Ghanaians have never checked their blood pressure before, although it provides easy signals that one is vulnerable to stroke.

“We do studies on patients who come and for most of them, being tested in the hospital is the first time they are checking their blood pressure and at that time they realise they have hypertension and they have gone on to develop the stroke,” the Deputy Programme Manager for Non Communicable Diseases Control Programme, Dr Afua Commey told Graphic Online.

Speaking on the sidelines of a stakeholders meeting as part of activities marking World Stroke Day, she said people often complained that they had seen people who were fine and then suddenly developed stroke without knowing the peoples blood pressure.

“High blood pressure does not have any symptoms. You wouldn’t know until you check. Before you realise, the blood pressure gets out of hand and they develop stroke,” she said.

She urged the public to do routine medical checkups to know their blood pressure level.

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Stroke is a “brain attack” cutting off vital supplies of blood and oxygen to the brain. A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. Over 80 per cent of strokes happen because of a blockage in an artery.

A cerebral thrombosis – when a blood clot forms in a main artery leading to the brain or a cerebral embolism – when a blood clot, or sometimes a piece of fatty debris from another part of the body is carried in the bloodstream to the brain.

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain breaks leaking blood into or around the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes account for about 15% of all strokes, yet are responsible for more than 30% of all stroke deaths.

Intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH) is the most common type of hemorrhagic stroke. It occurs when a blood vessel inside the brain ruptures, and leaks blood into surrounding brain tissue.

While an ICH causes blood to leak into the brain itself, a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) occurs when blood spills into the space surrounding the brain.