As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark this year’s World Health Day, with the theme “High Blood Pressure”, the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, has cautioned against unrestrained consumption of foods such as noodles which are high in salt content, and drugs such as paracetamol that contain sodium, as a way of effectively addressing risk factors for raised blood pressure or hypertension.
Giving the warning in a statement to mark the Day in Lagos, President, PSN, Pharm. Olumide Akintayo said: “The risk of developing high blood pressure can be reduced by reducing salt intake, eating a balanced diet, avoiding harmful use of alcohol, taking regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy body weight, and avoiding tobacco use.”
Akintayo observed that reduction of hypertension in the Nigerian population can only be effected through strong public health policies such as reduction of salt in processed food and widely available diagnosis and treatment that tackle hypertension and other risk factors together.
His words: “The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, admonishes the consuming public on dietary patterns which is critical in hypertension. Some popular diets like some brands of noodles account for 61 percent of daily salt requirement in the smallest packs.
“Newly promoted brands of soluble paracetamol with about 450mg of sodium per tablet which transcends 2.7g daily when six tabs are taken a day will be inimical to the health of hypertensives and so call for caution,” Akintayo said.
Calling for improved awareness on the causes and consequences of hypertension in line with goals of the World Health Day 2013, which is “greater awareness, healthy behaviours, improved detection, and enabling environments”, he argued that the right systems and services should be in place to promote universal health coverage and support healthy lifestyles within the Nigerian populace.
“Access to good quality medicines, which are effective and inexpensive, is also vital, particularly at the primary care level. As with other non-communicable diseases, awareness aids early detection while self-care helps ensure regular intake of medication, healthy behaviours and better control of the condition.”
Akintayo noted that the high-income countries have begun to reduce hypertension in their populations through strong public health policies such as reduction of salt in processed food and widely available diagnosis and treatment that tackle hypertension and other risk factors together.
“Many can point to examples of joint action – across sectors – that is effectively addressing risk factors for raised blood pressure. In contrast, many developing countries are seeing growing numbers of people who suffer from heart attacks and strokes due to undiagnosed and uncontrolled risk factors such as hypertension.
“The risk of developing these complications is higher in the presence of other cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes. However, high blood pressure is both preventable and treatable. Doing so is far less costly, and far safer for patients, than interventions like cardiac bypass surgery and dialysis that may be needed when hypertension is missed and goes untreated.
On the role of pharmacists in hypertension, Akintayo noted that as the most accessible healthcare professionals in a community, pharmacists can verify and improve the patients’ knowledge about necessary lifestyle modifications and use of medicines and improve adherence to therapy.
“Pharmaceutical care of hypertensive patients by pharmacists has been demonstrated to significantly improve adherence to antihypertensive therapy thereby improving blood pressure control.”
Hypertension as a silent, invisible killer that rarely causes symptoms, but increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and one which left uncontrolled, can also cause blindness, irregularities of the heartbeat and heart failure.
Blood pressure measurement of 140/90mmHg and above is regarded as high blood pressure. Hypertension already affects one billion people worldwide and kills nine million people every year. Prevalence is highest in some low-income countries in Africa, with over 40 percent of adults in many African countries thought to be affected.
World Health Day is celebrated April 7 each year to mark theanniversary of the founding of World Health Organisation, WHO, in 1948.