Food · Health

1 in 4 Filipinos are hypertensive

It’s easy to know you’re sick when you have the signs or symptoms. But when you don’t, one day you’ll find yourself sick without a warning, and that can be very alarming.

“Most hypertensive patients have no symptoms. The known symptoms of hypertension like headache, dizziness, nape pain, and blurring of vision are non-specific and could be due to other causes. The best way to find out is to have one’s blood pressure taken. It only takes a few minutes to do it,” said Dr. Rafael R. Castillo, member of Executive Council of the International Society of Hypertension (ISH) based in United Kingdom and Chairman, Communications Committee, ISH.

Based on the national survey released by the Department of Health in 2017, the total number of hypertensive Filipinos is now more than 12 million, with more than half of them are unaware of their condition. Roughly, 1 out of 4 to 5 Filipinos in general.

“That’s why the International Society of Hypertension, in collaboration with the Philippine Society of Hypertension and 22 other local medical organizations have a yearly May Measurement Month (MMM) wherein we screen blood pressure nationwide to diagnose unsuspecting hypertensive patients,” said Dr. Castillo.

Launched in May 2017, May Measure Month (MMM) is a global awareness campaign led by the ISH. It represents the world’s leading scientists, clinicians, healthcare providers, and allied health care workers, all with a common interest in hypertension (high blood pressure) research.

According to the MMM website, high blood pressure is the number one contributing factor for global death, causing strokes, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular complications with 10 million people dying each year due to conditions related to hypertension.

This May 2018, there will be mass synchronized global blood pressure screening campaign just like last year and everyone is invited to participate and spread the word.

Although there are rooms for improvement, Dr. Castillo described the not-so-healthy lifestyle of Filipinos that are making them sick.

“Many Filipinos are still smoking, we eat a lot of processed foods including junk foods, we don’t exercise enough and we live a stressful life. High BP and other heart diseases result from the interaction of genetics and environmental or lifestyle factors,” he said.

As to who’s more prone, Dr. Castillo said, “Both male and female are equally prone to high BP, males are more prone before menopause of women; after menopause, they’re just about the same.”

He advised proper diet, regular exercise and intake of medicines to control and prevent high blood pressure.

Last year, American Heart Association, the American College of Cardiology, and nine other health organizations released new guidelines lowering the numbers for the diagnosis of hypertension (high blood pressure) to 130/80 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and higher for all adults. The previous guidelines set the threshold at 140/90 mm Hg for people younger than age 65 and 150/80 mm Hg for those ages 65 and older.

This means 70 percent to 79 percent of men ages 55 and older are now classified as having hypertension. That includes many men whose blood pressure had previously been considered healthy. Why the change?

“Because they have shown based on studies that although the previous BP levels were achieved, there already signs of high BP on the heart, kidneys, brain and arteries. They, therefore determined the threshold at which these target-organ damage starts to occur. And based on their analysis, it starts from a BP of 130/80 mmHg,” explained Dr. Castillo.

Apart from lowered threshold, the new guidelines don’t offer different recommendations for younger people or older than 65 years old.

“Instead, people with those readings are now categorized as having either elevated pressure (120 to 129 systolic and less than 80 diastolic) or Stage 1 hypertension (130 to 139 systolic or 80 to 89 diastolic). A reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher is considered Stage 2 hypertension, and anything higher than 180/120 mm Hg is hypertensive crisis,” said the report.

The new guideline also redefined the various categories of hypertension, eliminating the category of prehypertension, which had been defined as systolic blood pressure of 120 to 139 mm Hg or diastolic pressure (the lower number in a reading) of 80 to 89 mm Hg.

For more information, visit http://maymeasure.com/

Article originally published at The Manila Times, Health Industry section, April 14, 2018

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