Local and international medical practitioners and partners this week convened in Kigali to discuss how to conduct a research on causes of increasing High Blood Pressure cases in the world.
Organized by Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) in collaboration with Rwanda College of Physicians (RCP), the two-day symposium ended on 22 July 2022.
It was also in line with the celebration of World Hypertension Day under the Theme, “Measure Blood Pressure, control it.” The disease does not only attack elderly or obesity, according to experts.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that hypertension is a significant global cause of premature death.
Worldwide, 1.28 billion adults between the ages of 30 and 79 are estimated to have hypertension, with the majority (two-thirds) residing in low- and middle-income nations.
For the Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC), 15.9% Rwandans aged from 18-65, have high blood pressure. Among them, 46% are unaware, making the disease a “silent killer.”
“We cannot guarantee that thin people will not develop hypertension. Actually, among patients, some are thin. We are meeting to discuss how we conduct research about the increasing cases, but also causes for thin people being attacked by the disease,” Dr. François Uwinkindi, Division Manager of Non-Communicable Diseases Division at RBC said.
He pointed out that many patients turn up for medical checkups after being severely attacked by the disease, the life-threatening condition.
Dr. Uwinkindi stated that some people diagnosed with hypertension are often baffled, and many ask, “Why me?”. He added that the doubt makes sense, because unlike many other illnesses, hypertension rarely causes symptoms.
“It is worryingly referred to as the silent killer. When blood pressure reaches risky levels, some people have headache but in others, hypertension can go unnoticed until it results in a fatal heart attack,” Dr. Uwinkindi added.
According to doctors, hypertension or High Blood Pressure has serious complications including; heart attack, kidney failure, and stroke and could lead to death, if left untreated.
Doctors say when blood pressure is controlled, the risks are greatly reduced and prevent severe complications and add to life expectancy.
Dr. Uwinkindi says that excessive alcohol use, junk food, smoking, and insufficient exercise are some of the factors that raise the risk of hypertension.
On the contrary, studies have indicated that consuming fruits and vegetables can postpone the onset of non-communicable disorders including hypertension.
According to Dr. Evariste Ntaganda, a cardiovascular disease officer at RBC, hypertension is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in Rwanda.
He pointed out that encouraging people to maintain a healthy weight, cutting back on alcohol and tobacco use, eating vegetables occasionally, and consuming fewer fats and carbohydrates are also some preventive strategies implemented.