09.11.2007 Health

Hypertension is a real killer

09.11.2007 LISTEN

Hypertension or high blood pressure is the leading disease with various complications such as heart failures, strokes and kidney failures that often result in death, Professor Joseph Orleans Mends Pobee, a Physician and Cardiologist has advised.

"The epidemic is in both urban and rural areas of the country and at least 10-15 Ghanaians have high blood pressure", he added.

Professor Pobee who delivered the 12th in the series of the Golden Jubilee Lecture on the theme: "The Health of the Nation: Fifty Years After Independence," indicated that one in three Ghanaians over 40 years had high blood pressure.

He revealed that there was an epidemic of diabetes in at least urban Ghana occurring in six percent of those 20 years and above and that one in 11 Ghanaians over 45 years had diabetes.

Prof Pobee pointed out that strokes caused 25 percent of adult deaths while hypertension accounted for 32 percent of adult deaths, adding " hypertension related sudden death occurs in every 10th adult so dying".

He stressed that heart attacks were threatening to be epidemic and if action was not taken now by 2020 when the country achieved middle-income status the epidemic would happen quickly.

Prof Pobee attributed the current health situation largely to nutrition change saying our diet change from our previous prudent one to Western dietary type is responsible for the health woes.

"Ghanaians have prudent diet that minimized cardiovascular diseases occurrence but now we have adopted Western dietary habits", he added.

He noted that culturally Ghanaians had positive admiration for obesity and as a result were living the independence dream to be like the white man.

"So we smoke and enjoy our alcohol and eat high energy, high fatty large amounts of food, sit around, no physical exercise, all these are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases".

Prof. Pobee warned "We are entering the future with a double burden of diseases, communicable and non communicable diseases and the risk factors for both infections and non infectious diseases were still in high prevalence so the outlook would appear not to be good.”

He noted that control mechanisms had been successful in some countries and we could adopt such methods and strategies.

Prof Samuel Ofosu-Amaah, President of Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons decried the spate of maternal deaths in the country noting that 10 women die each day from pregnancy related disease, which did not occur elsewhere in the world.

He stated that in the last 50 years the burden of diseases had reduced citing the complete eradication of polio, which was almost under control and that the same steps should be taken to reduce the incidence of diseases in the country.

Dr Mrs Mary Grant urged people to ensure that they were responsible for their health so that they would live longer.

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