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The South-East geopolitical zone was reported by the Nigerian Hypertension Society on Monday to bear the highest burden of hypertension cases in the country.
The President of the NHS, Prof Ayodele Omotoso, made this known in Abuja at the 23rd Annual General Meeting and scientific conference themed, “Tackling the burden of hypertension in Nigeria from primary to tertiary care,” and sub-themed, “Telemedicine as a tool for hypertension control in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Professor Omotoso, a Medicine Professor at the University of Ilorin and Consultant Cardiologist at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, emphasized the urgent need for attention to the enormous burden of hypertension in Nigeria.
He said, ‘Nationally, the prevalence is around 30-40 per cent across the board. But when you look at the distribution in the geopolitical zones in the country, we do know that in South East, we have about 44 per cent; in North-East, it is about 42 per cent, and in other areas, it is about 25-30 per cent across the various geopolitical zones.’
‘When you translate that to actual figures using the current population, you will know that the burden runs into millions. Let’s say we have 120 million in the adult range in the 200 million estimated Nigerian population, just look at 30 per cent of that, that is like saying we have about 40 million Nigerians with hypertension.’
‘If you look at the cost of this disease, not only the cost of treatment, but the cost in terms of days lost to ill health, and complications due to kidney failure, stroke, heart failure, and others, they have economic implications on the country.’
Professor Solomon Kadiri, part of the Africa Regional Advisory Group of the International Society of Hypertension, expressed concern about the growing burden of hypertension in recent decades.
Kadiri, who is a nephrologist and the keynote speaker at the conference said, ‘The prevalence rate from many studies will be about 35-40 per cent in adults, meaning that one in three adults that you meet will be hypertensive. In 90 per cent of hypertension cases, there is no disease cause as such that could be identified. But there are risk factors like excessive intake of salt, obesity, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol consumption.’
‘When a patient is diagnosed with hypertension, he should be told what the likely reasons are, even if the patient is taking medications for hypertension, he should be told to cut down on salt intake, lose weight, and become physically active.’
‘Nigerians need to be aware that hypertension is a problem, and they need to have their high pressure checked. Adults should have their blood pressure checked twice a year, if they have shown to be hypertensive, they should have their blood pressure checked more frequently.’
Also speaking, the Chairperson of the Local Organising Committee for the conference, Dr Manmak Mamven, said there is a need for a comprehensive and collaborative approach to combat hypertension as a silent killer.
‘Hypertension is a major public health concern globally, and Nigeria is no exception. It is our responsibility as healthcare professionals to come together and address this challenge head-on,’ Dr Mamven noted.
Mamven, who is also a Consultant Nephrologist at the University Of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, Abuja, said stress and substance abuse contribute to the prevalence rate of hypertension in the country.
‘The stress going on in the country now is a factor and substance abuse. I have seen some of them coming to the hospital with hypertension, and when you dig deep you will find out that it is linked to substance abuse even in younger ones,’ she said.
Speaking on behalf of President Bola Tinubu, Dr. Salma Anas, the Special Adviser on health matters, pointed out the Federal Government’s intensified initiatives to boost awareness of the disease.
‘Under the renewed hope agenda of President Bola Tinubu, we have policies on reducing the burden of hypertension. So, we have to go back to the drawing board and start intensifying awareness among the general population, also focusing on young people, and talking to them about healthy lifestyles.’
‘We need to do more on awareness creation, prevention interventions, and the community to spread the message. Collectively, we will be able to reduce the scourge of hypertension,’ she assured.