The issue of hypertension has emerged as a major health concern in Nigeria, raising increasing alarm, with certain regions experiencing a higher prevalence. According to the Nigerian Hypertension Society (NHS), the South-East geopolitical region is facing the greatest number of hypertension cases. This was disclosed by the NHS president, Prof. Ayodele Omotoso, in Abuja during the 23rd Annual General Meeting and scientific conference themed, “Tackling the burden of hypertension in Nigeria from primary to tertiary care,” and sub-themed, “Telemedicine as a tool for hypertension control in sub-Saharan Africa.”
According to him, the ailment poses a significant challenge to Nigeria and necessitates immediate action. Omotoso, a professor of Medicine at the University of Ilorin and a Consultant Cardiology at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, stated that the prevalence of hypertension ranges from 30 to 40 percent nationwide. From a regional perspective, the South East stands at approximately 44 percent, while the North-East region falls slightly behind with around 42 percent. The remaining areas exhibit a range of 25-30 percent across the diverse geopolitical zones.
Prevalence rate is approximately 35-40 percent among adults.
He claims that approximately 40 million Nigerians are plagued by the ailment in actual figures. Considering the expenses associated with this ailment, including medical treatment, lost productivity due to deteriorating health, and the complications like kidney failure, stroke, heart failure, and more, these issues indirectly impact the country’s economy, he further elaborated. Prof. Solomon Kadiri, a participant in the Africa Regional Advisory Group of the International Society of Hypertension, expressed concern about the escalating burden of the ailment over the past few decades.
Prof. Kadiri, a nephrologist and the key speaker, revealed that numerous studies indicate a prevalence rate of approximately 35-40 percent among adults. This implies that one out of every three adults you encounter is likely to suffer from the ailment. Interestingly, in roughly 90 percent of hypertension cases, no specific underlying disease or cause can be identified. However, there are certain factors that pose risks such as too much salt intake, obesity, lack of exercise, and heavy alcohol drinking. Informed enlightenment regarding the potential causes behind the ailment should be provided to patients upon diagnosis.
Stress and substance abuse influence the high prevalence.
Moreover, he asserts that it is vital for Nigerians to be conscious of the prevalence of the ailment, while encouraging individuals to regularly monitor their blood pressure. While it is recommended for adults to undergo blood pressure screenings at least twice a year, in cases where the ailment is diagnosed, more frequent monitoring is strongly advised. Dr. Manmak Mamven, the Chairperson of the Local Organising Committee for the conference, also stressed the necessity of adopting an all-encompassing and cooperative strategy to battle the ailment.
Dr. Mamven said the ailment poses a significant public health issue to countries worldwide, including Nigeria. Addressing this critical challenge demands the collaboration of healthcare experts, as it falls upon us to confront it directly, she said. Mamven, a Consultant Nephrologist at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital in Gwagwalada, Abuja, further highlighted that the country’s high prevalence rate of the ailment is influenced by stress and substance abuse. According to her, there have been instances where individuals, even in younger age groups, arrive at the hospital with the ailment, which upon further investigation, is found to be closely associated with substance abuse.
Collectively enhancing awareness campaigns can help reduce it.
On her part, Dr. Salma Anas, the Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on health matters, emphasizes that the Federal Government is actively scaling up its initiatives to raise awareness about the disease. President Bola Tinubu’s Renew Hope Agenda has paved the way for a comprehensive approach towards alleviating the burden of the ailment. Therefore, we must delve into fresh strategies and bolster our efforts in enlightening the masses about leading healthy lives, with particular emphasis on the youth, she said. Dr. Salma added that the prevalence of the ailment can be reduced effectively by collectively enhancing awareness campaigns, interventions for prevention, and community engagement in spreading the message.