The World Hypertension League (WHL), promotes World Hypertension Day (WHypD) on 17 May each year. This year’s WHypD theme is “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer”. The primary aim is to increase raised blood pressure (BP) awareness in populations around the world. Moreover, this year, there is an increased focus on the accurate measure of BP.
Hypertension remains the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide and significantly impacts the risk of all major cardiovascular events, including strokes, sudden cardiac death, coronary heart disease, heart failure, abdominal aortic aneurysm and peripheral vascular disease.
In South Africa, the heightened rate of hypertension is a great concern as less than 50% of South African adults, living with hypertension, are unaware of their condition. Of those who are aware of their blood pressure status, half do not take any action to control their blood pressure either through lifestyle modification or medication. Hypertension is responsible for 13% of all deaths, globally. In South Africa, more than 1 in 3 adults live with high blood pressure and it is responsible for 1 in every 2 strokes and 2 in every 5 heart attacks.
There are various physical and lifestyle factors that can make one more likely to develop high blood pressure including: family history, age, physical inactivity, an unhealthy diet (especially one that is high in salt and low in fruits and vegetables), being overweight or obese, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and tobacco use.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA) encourages people to adopt simple health-seeking behaviour changes that can help prevent hypertension and keep hypertensive patients in good health. It is important to measure your blood pressure accurately and know your blood pressure status and control it by taking your medication to live longer even if you are hypertensive.