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Hypertension taking a toll on youth's health

09 July 2013, 12:59 David Njaaga

Medics in Kenya have raised concern over the increasing number of people suffering from Hypertension especially amongst individuals aged 25 years and above. They have urged the government to formulate policies that encourage healthy lifestyle in order to reduce the causes of the condition.

Non-communicable diseases contribute half of the top 20 morbidity cases. 37% of Kenyans above 25 years of age are suspected to have high blood pressure.

The condition is regarded a "silent killer" because it produces no symptoms and many people are only diagnosed when complications have already set in.

"The average blood pressure in Africa is now higher than in Europe and USA and the prevalence has increased tremendously among the poorer section of the society," says Dr. Custodia Mandlhate, Country Representative World Health Organization.

Mandlhate notes that more people in Africa are at risk of getting Hypertension by 2025 if proper measures to curb the disease are not taken in to consideration adding that one out of three people die globally from the disease.

She says that addressing the problem requires proper public awareness, early detection and treatment with strategies promoting universal access to information being given the first priority.

However, Dr. Shahnaz Sharif, Director Public Health and Sanitation notes that though Africa has been lagging behind in the control and management of Hypertension, most countries are now adopting new and improved strategies of containing the condition.

"I am of the opinion that most countries are now becoming aware of the loss Hypertension is causing and many of them are doing something positive about it," he says.

Shahnaz adds that frequent medical checkups are vital since knowing one's status plays a major role in promoting health service delivery.

"We need to go beyond the blood pressure through advising people on ways to prevent the condition," he adds.

Mandlhate notes that eating a diet that contains less salt, avoiding extreme intake of alcohol, reducing tobacco smoking, regular exercise, and reducing levels of stress are some of the personal initiatives an individual can take to curb hypertension.

Lack of regular checkups for those suffering from the condition leads to complications that are associated with stroke, kidney failure, and sometimes blindness, with half of the deaths emanating from hypertension being caused by heart disease and stroke.

WHO data on April 2011 indicates that hypertension deaths hit 0.90 percent of the total deaths in Kenya, with death rate of 21.81 percent per 100,000 people and ranking Kenya number 121 globally.

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