A resident undergoes a blood pressure screening at Marindi village in Homa Bay during World Hypertension Day celebrations. [James Omoro, Standard].

Friday, May 17, marked World Hypertension Day, a global event aimed at raising awareness on the condition that silently affects millions worldwide.

 Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a serious health concern that requires immediate attention due to its potential to escalate into life-threatening illnesses such as kidney disease, cardiac disease, heart attack, or stroke.

 According to Dr. Vijaysinh Patil, hypertension is most common in the elderly, those who lead sedentary lifestyles, patients with type 2 diabetes or obesity, those who eat a high-salt diet, and those who drink heavily.

 Younger people can also develop hypertension as a result of stress or other circumstances.

 This year’s theme, “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, and Live Longer” promotes enhanced awareness of high blood pressure.


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 The theme also sensitizes on the need for blood pressure measurement accuracy to control hypertension-related NCDs, particularly in poor and middle-income communities.

 Dr. Patil highlights hidden signs of hypertension, including frequent headaches, vision problems, recurrent nosebleeds, and shortness of breath, persistent tiredness, irregular heartbeat and deterioration of renal function.

 “Changing your lifestyle can help control and manage high blood pressure,” says Dr. Patil.

 He recommends making lifestyle changes, including eating a heart-healthy diet with less salt, getting regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight, limiting alcohol, not smoking, and getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily.

 In case of any symptoms, Dr. Patil advises seeking medical advice without delay.

 “Early detection and management of hypertension can significantly reduce the risk of complications and improve overall health,” he says.

 In Kenya, the prevalence of hypertension is 24 per cent with about 78 per cent of people diagnosed with hypertension not on treatment.

  For those on treatment, only 3 per cent have achieved blood pressure control.

 The Ministry of Health has called on Kenyans to prioritize their cardiovascular health by checking their blood pressure, spreading awareness and staying vigilant about heart health.

 According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hypertension is a leading risk factor for premature death and disability – in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region especially.

WHO says untreated hypertension can lead to serious medical complications such as stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney damage, and other debilitating health issues.

 Established risk factors include unhealthy diet (high salt and low fruit and vegetable intake), physical inactivity, tobacco and alcohol use, and obesity.

 Emerging risk factors include pollution (air, water, noise, light), urbanization and loss of green space.