For anyone living in African countries, it seems as if there is no escape route from developing high blood pressure, but the good news from the World Hypertension League (WHL) is that having a healthy heart, as well as a healthy blood pressure, is a possibility.
The World Hypertension League (WHL) is an affiliated section of the International Society of Hypertension (ISH), which initiated May 17th of every year to mark World Hypertension Day, whereby awareness is raised on high blood pressure.
The World Hypertension Day (WHD) was first inaugurated in May 2005 and has become an annual event, ever since. The purpose of the WHD is to promote public awareness of hypertension and to encourage citizens of all countries to prevent and control this silent killer, the modern epidemic.
“World Hypertension Day has been established to highlight the preventable stroke, heart and kidney diseases caused by high blood pressure and to communicate to the public information on prevention, detection and treatment.”
This year, the theme for WHD is: “Healthy Heart Beat – Healthy Blood Pressure.” And according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the prevalence of high blood pressure is highest in low-income countries in Africa, with over 40 per cent of adults in many African countries thought to be affected.
WHL defined hypertension as a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure is elevated, adding that many people have high blood pressure for years without knowing it. And most of the time, there are no symptoms. But when high blood pressure goes untreated, it damages arteries and vital organs throughout the body.
Speaking on decreasing the risk of high blood pressure, the initiative advised people to cut down on foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt. “These are mainly found in fast foods, ready to eat packaged foods and restaurant foods. If you cook more meals at home you can control how much fat, sugar and salt you use. And remember, it’s easy to remove the salt shaker from the table”.
To form a healthy eating habit, which is the best option for anyone, it is advised that one begins by eating more fruits and vegetables, have at least one vegetarian meal a week, and take fruits and nuts in their natural form as snacks. Also, fruits or vegetables of every colour can be eaten every day.
On how to measure the accurate blood pressure of an individual, the group noted that it is good to measure your blood measure regularly at home with an automatic, cuff style bicep (upper arm) monitor. It explained that a good blood pressure reading should be below 135 mmHG for the upper reading and below 85 mmHg for the lower reading, for good health.
“When taking your blood pressure, remember to do it when you are calm and quiet and at least 30 minutes after exercise. Begin by making sure the cuff fits around your upper arm. Sit with your back straight and don’t cross your feet. Take multiple readings at the same time of the day. And of course, record your results for future reference. If you maintain a healthy blood pressure, you will help to maintain a healthy heart rhythm.”
In measuring the heartbeat or heart rhythm, it was recommended that you take your pulse at the same time as at when you take your blood pressure. A faster than normal heartbeat is usually greater than 100 beats per minute and sometimes as fast as 150 beats per minute. An irregular heartbeat or rhythm is harder to detect. Symptoms range from feeling an irregular beat in your chest, to tiredness, fainting or absolutely nothing.
On its own part, New Heights Pharmaceuticals, official business partner for Omron Healthcare in Nigeria, has called on all health practitioners, including pharmacists, to be part of the campaign against hypertension.
Speaking to Pharmanews in an exclusive interview recently, during a one-day workshop organised by Drug Information Centre (DIC), for community pharmacists on hypertension, Pharm. Omaruaye Ogheneochuko, managing pharmacist, New Heights Pharmaceuticals, urged pharmacists to be actively involved in the creation of awareness on high blood pressure, by providing their clients with information on how to measure their blood pressures at home.
According to him, “we decided to partner with the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN) to educate and to inform pharmacists on the need for them to join in the advocacy, to create more awareness on hypertension.”
“Aside from drug dispensing; we want pharmacists to know that they can also make available more information to their patients on the need for them to be actively involved in measuring and managing their blood pressure at home. As a leading marketer of Omron blood pressure monitors in Nigeria, we felt we should do something to instigate and encourage pharmacists to be involved in increasing the rate of hypertension awareness in the society.”
He further stated that about 70 per cent of the Nigerian population is hypertensive, quoting from a WHO’s information. He decalred that this is an unfortunate situation, because most of these people are not aware that they are hypertensive, owing to the simple fact that they do not know that they can check their blood pressure at home, using an Omron BP monitor.
“Majority of the population does not know that they are hypertensive, and the reason for this is that they don’t check. And why they don’t check is because they don’t know that they can check their BP at home, using an Omron BP monitor, until it is detected in the hospital.”
He further explained that Omron BP monitors are not only accurate and validated, but they are also affordable, because they are cheaper than any average phone set in Nigeria.
We are the official business partner for Omron Healthcare in Nigeria and we realise that a lot of health practitioners, including pharmacists, are not really getting actively involved in the creation of awareness for hypertension.
When asked about the accuracy of the device, the New Heights boss said Omron is the leading manufacturer of blood pressure monitors in the world. And as such, they have sold over a hundred million monitors in the world, adding that their blood pressure monitors are the only ones in Nigeria today that are clinically validated.
“And there is a difference between clinically tested and clinically validated. Clinically validated means that the monitors have been compared to mercury swig and have been shown to be as accurate as the conventional mercury swig used in the hospitals. That is why it is the only monitor that is officially registered by NAFDAC, officially satisfied by SON, and the only one proven over the years.”