KATHMANDU, April 29: An empirical study shows that 28 percent of the population in the country is affected by high blood pressure or hypertension.
The study titled 'Awareness, Prevalence, Treatment and Control of Hypertension in Western Nepal' was carried out recently by Nepal Development Society (NEDS) among 2,815 participants aged between 25 and 65 years, including 1,844 women, selected randomly.
“Hypertension or elevated blood pressure currently affects nearly 28 percent of the country's population,” said researcher Shiva Raj Mishra of NEDS. “It is a major risk factor for heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. And, this grave problem must be addressed sooner than later,” he added.
Hypertension is a major killer globally with 13 percent of the total deaths annually being attributable to hypertension, according to the World Health Organization.
The exact causes of high blood pressure are still unknown, but several factors and conditions that can play a role to trigger hypertension include smoking, being overweight or obese, lack of physical activity, too much salt in diet, too much alcohol consumption (more than 1 to 2 drinks per day), stress, increasing age, heredity, chronic kidney disease, adrenal and thyroid disorders, among others.
Among the risk factors, 17 percent were daily smokers, 12 percent harmful alcohol drinkers, 90 percent consuming low levels of fruit and/or vegetable and 7 percent reported low physical activity, according to the study. Out of the total hypertensive, 46 percent were aware of their pre-existing hypertension, 31 percent were on hypertensive medication, and surprisingly only 15 percent met blood pressure control targets.
The biggest risk was seen for harmful alcohol intake which increased the risk of hypertension by 142 percent and family history of hypertension by 42 percent and co-morbid diabetes by 108 percent, says the report prepared by Dinesh Neupane, including Archana Shrestha (Harvard T Chan School of Public Health), and Mishra, among others. “We also found, if one has three to four of these risk factors, one's chances of having hypertension increase by 62 percent and for those with more than four risk factors, the risk increases by 281 percent compared to those who have two or fewer than two risk factors after adjusting for age and sex.”
The International Society of Hypertension, World Hypertension League and Nepal Development Society have collaborated with several community organizations and health facilities under the Ministry of Health for conducting screening of blood pressure at 18 places, beginning from May 1. The event titled the May Measurement Month of Hypertension will be organized across the country.
“We aim to increase awareness on the need for screening for hypertension, and identifying people who are already living with it but don't know,” said Mishra.
On the occasion of the World Hypertension Day, the plan is to screen at least 10,000 people, and provide timely dietary and lifestyle counseling to promote healthy living, according to Mishra. NEDS which is coordinating with other organizations has collaborated with the International Hypertension Society, which aims to screen 10 percent of the world's population.