Hypertension increasing among older Nigerians – Physician

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Dr Olumuyiwa Akinola, a General Physician with Isolo General Hospital Lagos, says there is a dramatic increase in hypertension prevalence among older Nigerian adults.

Akinola disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos.

He decried the increase saying there was particularly a prevalence of systolic hypertension in older adults.

According to him, studies show that the prevalence in adults aged 65 to 94 years is 73.8 per cent translating to 3 out of 4 older adults having high blood pressure.

He added that the age-standardised prevalence of hypertension is slightly higher in men than women and increases with age.

“When hypertension develops, it is a risk factor for stroke and sudden death.

“It’s been shown that there is a dramatic increase in hypertension prevalence with age which is the number one fact that you must know,’’ he said.

He blamed the prevalence of the disease in the country on imitation of western lifestyle, especially in diets.

He advised that junk and processed foods should be reduced, intake of salt, fats and oil in food should also be in moderation.

He also said adequate intake of water is essential because in normal circumstances an individual is expected to take three litres of water per day.

Akinola highlighted risk factors of hypertension in older adults to include stiffening of arteries as a result of aging, which increases the prevalence of systolic blood pressure.

According to him, other risk factors of the disease are people with metabolic disorders such as diabetes and high cholesterol in the body.

“Also half of the people over the age of 60 and about three quarter of the age of 70 would also develop it, so the prevalence would gradually increase as people grow older.

“People with hypertension are at the risk of developing cerebrovascular disease known as stroke.

“For some people you cannot say the cause of what is known as primary hypertension,” Akinola said.

The expert however stated that lifestyle measures had worked effectively in managing hypertension among the elderly.

He noted that Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) which entails weight reduction, good exercise, increased potassium and low sodium, reduction in alcohol intake as well as abstinence from smoking work well in the treatment of hypertension in older adults.

“The commonest problem that a lot of people in the society do have is heart attack or stroke as a result of hypertension, high blood pressure; hence interventions and counseling are very important to stem the tide of its prevalence,” he said.