Understanding the Widespread Impact of Hypertensio...

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Understanding the Widespread Impact of Hypertension in Pakistan

 By Shine Humanity

 May 16, 2024

Hypertension is a global health concern affecting more than 7 million individuals every year. Unfortunately, it gives birth to a myriad of diseases and may even result in irreparable loss of vital organs. The non-communicable disease, also known as a silent killer, is highly prevalent in developing nations.

According to a recent survey, Pakistan is facing a hypertensive crisis as the intensity jumped to 46% from 13% in 2010. However, positive lifestyle changes, enhanced socio-economic factors, and amendments in the healthcare program can help regulate the growing health concern.

Let's try to gain a deeper understanding of the causes and consequences of hypertension:

Hypertension: A Silent Epidemic

Hypertension occurs due to weakened arteries, a condition in which your heart needs to work harder to pump blood. This high blood pressure condition stems from the consistently higher blood force against artery walls. Commonly, high blood pressure doesn't show symptoms in the initial stages. However, it silently causes damage and may lead to life-threatening cardiovascular conditions like stroke or heart attack.

To prevent hypertension, blood pressure screening is vital, and regular screening is the only way to monitor high blood pressure. Apart from this, knowing the predisposing factors is also essential. Though some risk factors are uncontrollable, others related to sedentary and poor lifestyle choices may pose a threat to people as young as 18 years of age. Abstaining from workouts, excessive intake of junk food, high salt intake, and obesity are some of its major risk factors.

Hypertension can also be a life-long condition, especially if not diagnosed in the early stages. Managing the condition requires a comprehensive approach. Various factors are considered, ranging from age and medical history to weight and lifestyle. Commonly, healthcare professionals address the underlying cause besides aiming to manage the current condition.

Hypertension in Pakistan

Among other healthcare issues, Pakistan faces a high prevalence of hypertension. Hypertension awareness in Pakistan is crucial as a major portion of the population is unaware of its devastating consequences. Currently, 18% of adults above 15 years of age are affected with hypertension. In the rural population, its prevalence is 16.2%, whereas a hike of 21.6% can be seen in the urban areas. As per WHO, hypertensive cases (people with blood pressure 140/90 mmHg or higher) increased drastically in Pakistan from 1999 to 2019.

Childhood hypertension is another cause of concern for the nation. This is mainly due to schools without playgrounds and the absence of parental support in outdoor activities. Likewise, in the urban centers, office jobs, technology, and transportation facilities have significantly reduced physical activities.

Moreover, the rapid shift towards urbanization contributes to the growing hypertension rate. Poor dietary choices, specifically high salt intake, are a major culprit. Apart from that, non-awareness and paucity of data at a national level are other reasons. Today, nearly 70% of the Pakistani population is unaware of living with the disease, resulting in a control rate of just 3%.

Substantial Barriers in Controlling Hypertension

Being a developing nation, Pakistan faces multiple barriers in controlling hypertension. The inadequacy of screening programs creates a hindrance in early detection. Likewise, poor health facilities create numerous challenges. Inflation is on the rise and the hefty treatment cost makes it difficult for a common man to seek treatment.

Not only is this, but lack of awareness also poses a great hurdle. A major population in Pakistan fails to understand the consequences of unhealthy eating patterns. Addiction to drugs, smoking, and high sugar intake make matters worse. Furthermore, the heterogeneous studies in Pakistan make it difficult to comprehend the disease deeply. The variability of data does not show consistent results due to which it becomes challenging to come up with a definite conclusion. But whether it's a systematic barrier or resistance at an individual level, addressing the root cause is imperative to stay safe from the growing complications of hypertension.

Suggested Measures to Control the Escalating Hypertension Rate

The situation is undoubtedly alarming and requires a massive change in policymaking and a decent budget. Free and easily accessible healthcare facilities should be introduced. Various awareness programs are essential to changing people's mindsets. Also, free hypertension screening can encourage more people to schedule regular screening.

Most importantly, statistics must be available for all such steps. Reliable research methodologies must be adopted so that effective management plans can be implemented. In short, change is required at all levels, be it policymaking, government, or individual. Effective measures can play a pivotal role in controlling hypertension and safeguarding Pakistan from unnecessary casualties.

As May 17th is around the corner, Pakistan along with other nations, will celebrate World Hypertension Day. This year, the theme is Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, and Live Longer. It is that time of the year when different organizations collaborate to arrange World Hypertension Day activities like free medical camps, walks, and seminars. These efforts encourage blood pressure screening and spreading awareness.

Inviting more people to join such activities can amplify the efforts. Healthcare experts and community workers should offer free guidance, making the most of this globally recognized day.  Also, educating people regarding a healthy diet, the right devices for blood pressure monitoring, and the significance of exercise is imperative to curtail its growing rate.

SHINE Humanity's Initiatives for Hypertension

The pressing healthcare issue requires numerous initiatives focused on raising awareness and increasing the accessibility of healthcare facilities. SHINE Humanity is actively engaged in the mission of protecting Pakistan from the threat of this healthcare disaster. We are successfully running the SHINE Humanity Hypertension Program, with 200 registered patients screened and followed until stabilization. Our healthcare workers witness the alarming situation in rural Sindh, where people are deprived of basic healthcare facilities. Such eye-opening experiences motivate our team to work collectively for long-term change.

While several barriers exist, we are still optimistic and looking forward to collaborative efforts. We believe that even minute changes can be beneficial for the people of rural Sindh struggling to find effective hypertension treatment.

Together, we need to struggle for awareness and management. Setting up new clinics for blood pressure screening, arranging campaigns, and ensuring the availability of medicines can help thousands of lives. Let’s work together for this cause. Support us!

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