AS Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark this year’s World
Health Day, with the theme “High Blood Pressure”, the Pharmaceutical
Society of Nigeria, PSN, has cautioned against unrestrained
consumption of foods such as noodles which are high in salt content,
and drugs such as paracetamol that contain sodium, as a way of
effectively addressing risk factors for raised blood pressure or
Giving the warning in a statement to mark the Day in Lagos, President,
PSN, Pharm. Olumide Akintayo said: “The risk of developing high blood
pressure can be reduced by reducing salt intake, eating a balanced
diet, avoiding harmful use of alcohol, taking regular physical
activity, maintaining a healthy body weight, and avoiding tobacco
Akintayo observed that reduction of hypertension in the Nigerian
population can only be effected through strong public health policies
such as reduction of salt in processed food and widely available
diagnosis and treatment that tackle hypertension and other risk
His words: “The Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, PSN, admonishes the
consuming public on dietary patterns which is critical in
hypertension. Some popular diets like some brands of noodles account
for 61 percent of daily salt requirement in the smallest packs.
“Newly promoted brands of soluble paracetamol with about 450mg of
sodium per tablet which transcends 2.7g daily when six tabs are taken
a day will be inimical to the health of hypertensives and so call for
caution,” Akintayo said.
Calling for improved awareness on the causes and consequences of
hypertension in line with goals of the World Health Day 2013, which is
“greater awareness, healthy behaviours, improved detection, and
enabling environments”, he argued that the right systems and services
should be in place to promote universal health coverage and support
healthy lifestyles within the Nigerian populace.
“Access to good quality medicines, which are effective and
inexpensive, is also vital, particularly at the primary care level. As
with other non-communicable diseases, awareness aids early detection
while self-care helps ensure regular intake of medication, healthy
behaviours and better control of the condition.”
Akintayo noted that the high-income countries have begun to reduce
hypertension in their populations through strong public health
policies such as reduction of salt in processed food and widely
available diagnosis and treatment that tackle hypertension and other
risk factors together.
“Many can point to examples of joint action – across sectors – that is
effectively addressing risk factors for raised blood pressure. In
contrast, many developing countries are seeing growing numbers of
people who suffer from heart attacks and strokes due to undiagnosed
and uncontrolled risk factors such as hypertension.
“The risk of developing these complications is higher in the presence
of other cardiovascular risk factors such as diabetes. However, high
blood pressure is both preventable and treatable. Doing so is far less
costly, and far safer for patients, than interventions like cardiac
bypass surgery and dialysis that may be needed when hypertension is
missed and goes untreated.
On the role of pharmacists in hypertension, Akintayo noted that as the
most accessible healthcare professionals in a community, pharmacists
can verify and improve the patients’ knowledge about necessary
lifestyle modifications and use of medicines and improve adherence to
“Pharmaceutical care of hypertensive patients by pharmacists has been
demonstrated to significantly improve adherence to antihypertensive
therapy thereby improving blood pressure control.”
Hypertension as a silent, invisible killer that rarely causes
symptoms, but increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, kidney
failure and one which left uncontrolled, can also cause blindness,
irregularities of the heartbeat and heart failure.
Blood pressure measurement of 140/90mmHg and above is regarded as high
blood pressure. Hypertension already affects one billion people
worldwide and kills nine million people every year. Prevalence is
highest in some low-income countries in Africa, with over 40 percent
of adults in many African countries thought to be affected.
World Health Day is celebrated April 7 each year to mark the
anniversary of the founding of World Health Organisation, WHO, in
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