Doha, Qatar: To raise awareness of hypertension and promote the importance of knowing accurate blood pressure measurement methods, Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) organised an awareness activity at Hamad General Hospital’s Outpatient Department to mark World Hypertension Day.
World Hypertension Day on May 17, was held under the theme “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer”. The day is designated and initiated by The World Hypertension League, which is itself an umbrella to organizations of 85 national hypertension societies and leagues.
“Hypertension, also known as high or raised blood pressure, is a condition in which the blood vessels have persistently raised pressure. Blood is carried from the heart to all parts of the body in the vessels. Each time the heart beats, it pumps blood into the vessels. Blood pressure is created by the force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels (arteries) as it is pumped by the heart. The higher the pressure, the harder the heart has to pump,” explains Dr. Arif Idris Fadul Mutwali, Senior Consultant Physician and Nephrologist, HMC.
He explains that hypertension is a serious medical condition and can increase the risk of heart, brain, kidney and other diseases. “High blood pressure is a major cause of premature death worldwide, with upwards of 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women having the condition. The burden of hypertension is felt disproportionately in low- and middle-income countries, where two thirds of cases are found, largely due to increased risk factors in those populations in recent decades. Around half of people living with hypertension are unaware of their condition, putting them at risk of avoidable medical complications and death,” he notes.
Dr. Mutwali says HMC is committed to creating awareness and prevention of chronic diseases such as hypertension by highlighting World Hypertension Day because many people with the condition do not notice symptoms and may be unaware there is a problem. According to Dr. Mutwali, symptoms can include early morning headaches, nosebleeds, irregular heart rhythms, vision changes, and buzzing in the ears. More severe forms may exhibit fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion, anxiety, chest pain, and muscle tremors. If left untreated, hypertension can cause persistent chest pain (also called angina), heart attacks, heart failure, and an irregular heartbeat, which can lead to sudden death.
“Hypertension can also cause strokes by blocking or bursting arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain, as well as kidney damage, which can lead to kidney failure. High blood pressure causes damage to the heart by hardening arteries and decreasing the flood of blood and oxygen to the heart,” he states.
Dr. Mutwali points out that detecting hypertension is done with a quick and painless test of blood pressure, which can be done at home, but a health professional can help assess any risks or associated conditions. He further adds that reducing modifiable risk factors is the best way to prevent hypertension and associated diseases of the heart, brain, kidney and other organs. These factors include unhealthy diets, excessive salt consumption, a diet high in saturated fat and trans fats, low intake of fruits and vegetables, physical inactivity, consumption of tobacco and alcohol, and being overweight or obese.
According to him, there are also non-modifiable risk factors, including a family history of hypertension, age over 65 years and co-existing diseases such as diabetes or kidney disease. Avoiding dietary and behavioral risk factors is doubly important for those with unmodifiable or hereditary risk factors.