Around 25 per cent of the adult persons in the country suffer from high blood pressure. Many are not even aware that they have high blood pressure simply because they do not undergo any health checkups. Everyone over the age of 30 should have health checks at least once a year.
This ailment, known as the silent killer, affects a person from head to toe. It can lead to brain haemorrhage, heart disease, kidney complications and other illnesses. Yet a little awareness, physical exercise and change in food habits can easily keep this under control and ensure healthy living.
These observations were made by physicians at a virtual roundtable held on Saturday on the occasion of World Hypertension Day. The roundtable was jointly organised by the country's leading pharmaceutical manufacturer Eskayef Pharmaceuticals and Prothom Alo.
Speaking at the roundtable, Bangladesh Cardiac Society's general secretary AA Shafi Majumdar said that patients do not normally consult physicians just for high blood pressure. And when they finally do, by then the problem is hard to control. Yet if the ailment could be diagnosed from the outset, it would be much easier to control.
This disease has a negative impact from head to toe, said this former director of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases and Hospital. He said physical exercise must be made part of one's living. The media must also play a role in raising public awareness about the disease.
Former director of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases and Hospital, Afzalur Rahman, said that one third of the deaths globally are because of heart disease. He said 50 of the deaths caused by heart disease are because of high blood pressure. And in 54 per cent of the brain haemorrhage cases, high blood pressure is a major cause.
He said that one in every four males and one in every five females suffered from high blood pressure. High blood pressure was more common in urban settings than rural ones. However, among the rural patients, two thirds were not aware of high blood pressure. And one third of those affected in the villages do not go undergo any treatment.
Chairman of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU)'s cardiology department, Syed Ali Ahsan, said high blood pressure can be mild, medium or extreme. Medication must be taken on physician's advice for the latter two. However, those with mildly high blood pressure can keep it in control by changing their diet, regularly walking and keeping their diabetes in control.
Addressing the meeting, chief of United Hospital's cardiology department NAM Momenuzzaman said high blood pressure creates obstructions in the arteries. If just blood pressure could be kept in control, risk of heart disease would drop by 20 to 25 per cent.
Those with diabetes may develop high blood pressure. And those with high blood pressure may develop diabetes. It was a vicious cycle.
Director of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Disease and Hospital, Mir Jamal Uddin, said 20 to 25 per cent of the adults in the country were afflicted with high blood pressure. But more important was how many were not aware that they had high blood pressure. Once a patient began taking medication for high blood pressure, it could not be suddenly stopped without consulting a physician.
Starting off the roundtable discussion, Prothom Alo's associate editor Abdul Quayum said that fatty foods and cigarettes should be avoided. He also called upon parents to make sure their children were not constantly sitting in front of their computers and laptops.
Head of Dhaka Medical College Hospital's department of cardiology, Abdul Wadud Chowdhury, said that high blood pressure increased the risk of brain haemorrhage by 50 per cent. He said that 25 per cent of patients suffering from brain haemorrhage died. And among those who survived, one third may recover fully, while two thirds failed to recover completely. Addressing patients who were unwilling to take medication regularly, he said that they had to take high blood pressure medication as a part of their lives, as normally as regular meals.
Unit head of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, Sabina Hashem, said that those with diabetes may develop high blood pressure. And those with high blood pressure may develop diabetes. It was a vicious cycle. And high blood pressure could lead to renal problems too. And, in another vicious cycle, renal problems could lead to high blood pressure.
If expectant mothers could not keep their high blood pressure in control, problems could arise both for the mother and the infant in the womb. The infant may even die, said United Hospital's cardiology department's consultant Fatema Begum. She advised expectant mothers with high blood pressure to consult physicians in this regard as all medication could not be taken during pregnancy.
The roundtable, 'Control blood pressure, live long,' was moderated by Prothom Alo's assistant editor Firoz Chowdhury.