World Health Day to be observed today

Hypertension has become a global public health issue, the World Health Organisation said considering the huge damage it is causing to the health of people. Hypertension, popularly known as blood pressure or BP leads to heart problems, kidney problem, strokes and other major health problems.

According to WHO, while cardiovascular diseases account for 17 million deaths every year, hypertension is the cause for 9.4 million deaths.

Among them 45 per cent die due to heart attacks and 51 percent due to stroke. This year’s World Health Day, to be observed on Sunday (to mark the formation of WHO) has the theme, control your blood pressure and WHO urges all concerned to join forces to reduce hypertension and its impact since it is preventable and treatable.

Unhealthy diet, alcohol consumption, lack of exercise, obeseness and unbearable stress are some of the causes of hypertension.

Noted physician and former Superintendent of King George Hospital M.V.R.J. Somayajulu, while speaking to The Hindu said communicable diseases used to be the common cause of problem in the country in the past but after effective health care measures are taken and the communicable diseases are controlled, the non-communicable diseases like hypertension, diabetes, obesity, etc., have become more dangerous. One estimate put that 10 per cent of urban population is suffering from hypertension.

The major problem with hypertension is it does not have any symptoms and the only way to detect it and avoid the problem is to get the BP checked regularly and take medical advice and consume medicines regularly. “Serious condition becomes noticeable only after the complications surface. In 90 per cent of cases the symptoms are not visible and in 10 per cent the symptoms that can be noticed are mild headache, reeling sensation and difficulty in breathing”, said Dr. Somayajulu.

Hypertension is a major problem because it complicates the problems. In the case of heart it causes heart attacks, heart enlargements and heart failure; causes brain strokes in case of brain; renal failure in case of kidneys; blindness in case of eyes and sometimes the complications due to hypertension might lead to amputation of limbs, he said.

“Early detection and treatment will go a long way in controlling BP and the complications it will cause,” Dr. Somayajulu said.

In this direction he suggests that BP checking facility must be made available every where. The public sector undertakings of private units must have the provision for it so that the employees can regularly check their BP. Shopping malls, exhibition halls, railway stations, bus stations, airports or any other place that has large congregation of people must have the BP checking facility. “It is a worthwhile project and for public cause. It costs Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 10,000 to install a self BP checking machine”, he said. The Wal-Mart in the US has provided the facility free of cost for its customers.

Early detection and treatment are absolutely necessary. It will reduce health budget burden drastically, he added.

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