In South Africa, high blood pressure or hypertension is one of the leading causes of death.
According to recent statistics, an estimated 53 men and 78 women over 30 die every day due to hypertension. That's 131 preventable deaths a day! This is a serious concern.
Hypertension is a highly prevalent condition in South Africa, with over 50% of people over the age of 15 affected by it.
Even more worrying is that only half of those who have high blood pressure are aware of it. It is known as a ‘’silent killer’’ since there are usually no symptoms, and people only realise they have it when a cardiac event occurs, like a heart attack.
The risks of hypertension are serious. Worldwide, more than 11 million people die from high blood pressure every year. Other complications can include heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, kidney damage, retinal haemorrhage, and visual impairment.
With relatively few people making the connection between raised BP and the devastating consequences of the illness - awareness levels need urgent attention to curb the exponential growth of the disease in South Africa.
That’s more than the populations of many small countries. The effects of hypertension are alarming, with 28 000 people dying every day globally as a result of hypertension-related complications. That's equivalent to 70 jumbo jets crashing and killing everyone on board. We cannot allow these preventable deaths to continue.
As a result, the month-long campaign to offer free blood pressure checks at participating pharmacies nationwide is crucial to reducing the rates of hypertension-related deaths in South Africa.
A collaborative drive, May Measurement Month is an annual global screening campaign orchestrated by the International Society of Hypertension (ISH), the Southern African Hypertension Society (SAHS), and Servier.
Hypertension screening is a quick and easy process that helps diagnose the condition and take proactive steps. Blood pressure tests are the most efficient manner of determining hypertension, which can also lead to other related conditions such as heart attacks and strokes. The tests identify high blood pressure levels, and the necessary treatment can be rendered early enough.
Dr Martin Mpe, a Gauteng-based Cardiologist and past president of the South African Hypertension Society, said, “If you don’t have your BP measured, you won’t know you have the condition until it strikes. Detecting hypertension early also helps minimise the risks.”
With high blood pressure affecting more and more people, particularly young adults, the urgency of these regular screenings cannot be overstated.
It is our responsibility as individuals to look after our health and be proactive in taking measures to reduce the risks of developing hypertension.
He further adds: “A BP test is the only way to find out if your BP levels are elevated – a non-invasive and really quick measure that will immediately determine if levels are unacceptably high. A BP reading of 120-129/70- 79 is considered normal. If you have BP higher than 140/90, immediately seek further medical intervention.
With this kind of diagnosis, your doctor is likely to prescribe antihypertensive medication that’s taken every day. This is the only way to ensure that the treatment will effectively control blood pressure in the long term and protect against the risk of cardiovascular events, said Dr Mpe.
The free blood pressure test campaign is a significant step to averting these deaths. Get tested today, be part of the vital preventive measures against hypertension and prevent avoidable deaths.
See where you can get a free BP measurement in your city by clicking here: https://www.hypertension.org.za/pages/screening-sites
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