16 January 2008

UAE Cardiologist warns Emiratis of high blood rate

January 12 - 25, 2008
Issue 40

Every 1 in 4 people suffer from hypertension

A sedentary lifestyle and eating fat-rich, salty foods has caused nearly 38% of people living in the UAE to have hypertension, while 6.7% of people ages 20-39 only already acquired it.

“As you see, we have less exercise and fewer activities to do here; the car drops us at the very gate of our house. People, especially the younger generation, tend to eat more in fast foods,” said Dr. Awatif Al Sousa, Consultant Cardiologist and Gastroenterologist of Sheikh Khalifa Medical Center, during her lecture The Silent Killer: Know Your Number at the Abu Dhabi Ladies Club.

To beat it, people need not only be aware of the disease but also take on a more active lifestyle. “Although the risk of hypertension increases as one ages, it does not mean that it cannot affect young people. Hypertension happens to those who are overweight, have high blood sugar and eat a lot of salty foods but less vegetables,” she added.

The ideal blood pressure a person should have is 120 mmHg over 80 mmHg, which is also referred to as the optimal blood pressure. Anything between 121 mmHg to 139 mmHg over 81 mmHg to 89 mmHg is already a ‘high normal’ blood pressure or pre-hypertension.

“Hypertension is a disease without symptoms, which is what is more dangerous about it. No one is immune in having hypertension. It depends on your age, body weight, family history, and other problems you had.”

“There is no study, which tells exactly the percentage of being at risk with hypertension if you have a family history of it, but we can say that they are more liable than the others. There are some infants born with hypertension because of congenital problems. There are some hormonal problems caused by steroids, and there are children among these people who consequentially develop hypertension.”

Bigger problems

There are more to taking on the risks that leads one to have hypertension. “The problem is that people think that they if have no symptom, they are all right. This is a very, very wrong concept, and people do not realize this,” Dr. Al Sousa said.

“Those who have post-family history for hypertension must get themselves check. For those who have none, even they should start taking their blood pressure once they reached their 20s in an annual basis. Once they develop a high blood pressure, they should start modifying their lifestyle or, if it does not work, take hypertensive drugs.”

Another confusion people have is the notion that hypertension happens only to old people. “There is nothing like an acceptable high blood pressure for any age. A high blood pressure cannot be normal just because you aging. This is wrong. Hypertension is a disease that is really damaging to the body. Everybody should be wary of it.”

Some people also tend to stop their medications once they feel better, or just take some vitamins. “We might decrease the dose of your treatment but we would not stop it, and it is a patient’s responsibility to take medication everyday. The number of medicine for hypertension is not important as how you can control your blood pressure.”

“Taking vitamins would not reduce the blood pressure or the damages hypertension has done to the organs of the body. There are new drugs, which are very protective to the organs, such as the kidney and the heart, that are already available.”

“Hypertension is a silent killer. To counter it, we must begin on modifying our lifestyle such as quitting smoking, refraining from eating fatty and salty foods and having exercise. Patients must also take their medication regularly once they are advised to do so."

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