Beat high blood pressure with awareness and action – WHF
KUALA LUMPUR: High blood pressure is a silent killer as it usually has no warning signs, but simple steps can cut your risk of devastating health problems, Manulife and the World Heart Federation said yesterday to mark World Hypertension Day.
In Malaysia, about 22 per cent of adults have elevated blood pressure.
Awareness is the start. Hypertension is one of the main risk factors for heart disease and stroke – the world’s leading causes of death – but many people do not realise their blood pressure is high.
World Heart Federation president Dr David Wood advised people to see a doctor to get blood pressure checked.
“It’s quick and painless but it could save your life because high blood pressure can be treated and prevented – often by making a few changes to your diet, activity levels and unhealthy habits,” he said.
Various factors contribute to the risk but high blood pressure does not ignore people based on age, affluence, gender or geography.
Globally, about one in four adults has hypertension and it is expected to affect more than 1.5 billion people by 2025, according to The Lancet medical journal.
Among the ways to lower blood pressure include staying active by aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week such as walk, dance, swim, do housework chores or play a sport.
Make changes to the diet by cutting down on salt, sugar, fat and processed foods. Eat at least five portions ( handfuls) of fruit and vegetables every day. Also, reduce the amount of alcohol intake.
Stop smoking is the single best thing a smoker can do to improve heart health.
Maintaining proper weight is also an important aspect to leading a healthy lifestyle. Being overweight or obese raises the risk of high blood pressure.
The costs of ignoring hypertension are not just personal. Hospital treatment, medication and lost work hours all add to the burdens on the economy and society.
In Asia, home to half of the world’s population, the prevalence of elevated blood pressure ranges from highs of about 31 per cent in Mongolia, 27 per cent in Nepal, 25 per cent in India and 24 per cent in Cambodia to lows of 11 per cent in South Korea, 14 per cent in Singapore, 15 per cent in Australia and 17 per cent in Japan.
In China, more than 19 per cent of adults have elevated blood pressure, with Indonesia at nearly 24 per cent, Vietnam above 23 per cent, the Philippines at nearly 23 per cent and Thailand above 22 per cent.
These rates compare with about 13 per cent in the United States and Canada and about 15 per cent in the United Kingdom.
Manulife Malaysia Group chief executive officer ( CEO) Mark O’ Dell said that hypertension is a serious issue for millions of people across the markets they serve in Asia.
“As a major life insurer, we want to help people live better lives. So we’re delighted to team up with the World Heart Federation and help more people take steps towards a healthier lifestyle,” he added.