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Alarm raised over increased hypertension cases in Murang’a

As the country joined the globe to mark the World Hypertension Day recently, health workers in Murang’a Level-Five Hospital have called for concerted efforts in curbing the increasing cases of high blood pressure among area residents.

About 90 per cent of the patients who visit the facility for treatment have turned out to be suffering from high blood pressure after getting tested once they enter the hospital gate.

Murang’a County Health Promotion Officer, Danson Mwangi, observed that more awareness was needed to help in the prevention and management of the disease.

Speaking to KNA on Wednesday, Mwangi noted that the fight against hypertension has negatively been affected by the war on Covid-19 because they could no longer hold public mass education programs, while funding for such outreach programs was also a challenge.

He said that many people living with hypertension in the County remain unaware of their condition, thus putting themselves at the risk of developing further medical complications and ultimate death.

Hypertension is the main risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, especially coronary heart disease and stroke, chronic kidney failure, arrhythmia and dementia among others.

“With all the challenges posed by the Covid-19, we have had to integrate managing both the pandemic and hypertension. We now have nurses testing blood pressure for anyone walking into the hospital as they also check their temperatures,” he said.

The Health Promotion Officer stated that every public health care facility in the County had the same setup where all people walking in for treatment had their blood pressure checked from the onset.

He also noted that although hypertension like other non-communicable diseases may be genetic as well as a lifestyle disease that could be prevented with a change in the way of life.

Mwangi observed that with the advent of motorcycles and taxis people hardly walk even over short distances without knowing that such activities form an important part of exercise.

He observed that this coupled with the Covid-19 restrictions that limited movement of people had contributed immensely to the high number of hypertension patients as more and more people lived sedentary lifestyles.

“People should work out for at least 30 minutes every day as well as avoid lots of sugars and salts as sedentary lifestyle and poor diets were associated with high blood pressure,” he reiterated.

On prevention of the disease, Mwangi cautioned people against eating too late at night, saying most of that food ends up being stored fats in the body. He also stated that smoking, consumption of alcohol and red meat should be avoided or be consumed sparingly.

Meanwhile, according to the World Health Organization, 30 per cent of the adult population in the world are living with hypertension.

The County Nutrition Officer, Nancy Waitherero, also emphasized on the importance of proper nutrition in managing hypertension, saying diet helps prevent the condition.

Waitherero stated that people should avoid saturated fats which she described as any fats that are solid at room temperature.

She instead advised people to use vegetable, sunflower and corn oils which are healthier options.

The nutritionist urged people to ensure they incorporate vegetables as part of every meal and avoid processed foods and deep-fried foods.

On diet, she advised against high sugar and salt intakes, especially adding of salt to already cooked food before eating.

Waitherero explained that it was vital for everyone to maintain a healthy weight, saying people should watch out for fat deposits around the waist line.

Healthy weight, she said, can be achieved by eating whole unprocessed foods such as sweet potatoes and whole grain flours as well as having an active lifestyle.

The Nutrition Officer also emphasized on the importance of parents giving their children healthy whole foods and snacks in order to reduce the risk of such lifestyle diseases later in life.

She urged residents to have positive health checking habits and normalize screening, even when they manifest no signs of sickness because early intervention has also been linked to proper management of hypertension.

“All people, especially those above 40 years old should get their blood pressure tested regularly,” said Waitherero, adding that hypertension does not have any painful symptoms so early testing is important.

By Purity Mugo and Anita Omwenga

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