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World Hypertension Day: The ‘silent killer’ an underlying cause of COVID-19 deaths

World Hypertension Day is celebrated every year on May 17. (File photo).
Written by Ndivhuwo Mukwevho

Hypertension is simple to prevent, simple to diagnose, and simple to treat but according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, one in three South Africans live with the condition.

The CEO of the South African chapter of the foundation Professor Pamela Naidoo said high blood pressure is responsible for 1 in every 2 strokes and 2 in every 5 heart attacks.

“High blood pressure is known as a ‘silent killer’ because there are rarely any symptoms or visible signs to warn that blood pressure is high. That is why more than 50% of people with high blood pressure are unaware of their condition,” said Naidoo.

It has also been identified as one of the underlying medical conditions driving risks for developing severe illness and hospitalisation among COVID-19 patients. Naidoo said while hypertension is responsible for over 13% of all deaths globally, COVID-19 has increased its incidence.

Covid-19 and hypertension

“Research found that the risk of hospitalisation, severe illness, and death for Covid 19 is much higher in patients with diabetes and hypertension. Hypertensive people have a two-fold increased risk of dying from Covid 19,” said Naidoo.

World Hypertension Day is celebrated annually on the 17th of May. Its aim is to educate the public and increase awareness of hypertension, which is also commonly known as high blood pressure.

Hypertension is defined as the high persistent force of the blood flowing through the blood vessels. Fluctuations in blood pressure are normal which is why it is only diagnosed when it remains high on several occasions or when it is dangerously high on one occasion.

According to the World Health Organisation hypertension can increase the risk of heart, brain, kidney, and other diseases and it is also a major cause of premature death worldwide, with upwards of 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women, -while over a billion people have the condition.

Increased rates of hypertension in teens

Worryingly, over the last decade, there has been an increase in the number of children diagnosed with the condition, especially among pre-teens.

“Rates of High blood pressure in children and adolescents have increased in the last 20-years. Kidney disease is the most common secondary cause of hypertension in children and adolescents.,” said Naidoo.

Simple solutions

Naidoo said healthy behaviour changes could help to prevent hypertension.

“It is important to measure your blood pressure accurately and know your blood pressure status and control it by taking your medication to live longer even if you are hypertensive.”

Regularly testing your blood pressure, especially if you are over the age of 40, is the most effective way to lower your risks.

“Fortunately, high blood pressure is treatable and preventable. Hypertension is a condition that needs to be managed for the rest of your life. Hypertension treatment prolongs life and prevents cardiac failure,” she said.- Health-e News

About the author

Ndivhuwo Mukwevho

Ndivhuwo Mukwevho is citizen journalist who is based in the Vhembe District of Limpopo province. He joined OurHealth in 2015 and his interests lie in investigative journalism and reporting the untold stories of disadvantaged rural communities. Ndivhuwo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Media Studies from the University of Venda and he is currently a registered student with UNISA.

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