Hypertension: Underscoring regular screening for management

January 17, 2022
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Hypertension normally comes with fatigue, irregular heartbeat, difficulty in breathing, among other symptoms. 

The ailment is among the most widespread non-communicable diseases, and during a medical camp that was organised by Rwanda Christian Medical and Dental Organisation (RCMDO) last week, the disease was discovered to be among those with a high prevalence-more than 100 cases seen during the four-day camp.

More than 852 patients were consulted, treated for different conditions, and given medication for free. This took place at Gikomero Health Centre in Gasabo District, with a team which comprised of different general practitioners, specialists including surgeons, gynaecologists, internists, paediatricians, dental surgeons, psychiatrists among others.

Dr Stephen Muhumuza, an internal medicine specialist who is also the president of RCMDO says some of the patients who presented severe cases of hypertension had not adhered to proper medication.

This, he mentions that it was due to the cost and even lack of transportation to go for their regular medical check-ups.

Hypertension is a chronic disease, and most of the time you find that patients are taking more than just one drug, also taken daily, which means that it’s not easy for them to afford it, Muhumuza says.  

As a specialist, the medic terms hypertension as a serious health issue as most patients suffer a stroke as one of the major complications it presents. “Yet most of the patients normally come when they are already in their late stages.”

For this reason, he says their main focus was to educate the community on the importance of doing screening regularly.

To minimise complications, Noella Munezero, a medical student in general medicine, says people have to do regular screening especially those above the age of 45 years.

She mentions that changing lifestyle is very crucial as it helps mitigate the complications of the condition.

A hypertensive patient is required to changes their eating patterns, abstain from alcohol, and manage weight among other things.

A deeper look at hypertension

According to Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), the prevalence of hypertension in Rwanda now stands at 15.9 percent, and it is one of the reasons for consultations handled by medics in almost all health facilities.

Also, studies show there is a hypertension prevalence of 36 percent in adults aged 27 to 67 years.

Using the statistic of an average 15.9 percent prevalence of hypertension, it is estimated that 1,188,142 people between the age of 15 and 64 are living with hypertension in Rwanda.

Evariste Ntaganda, the director of cardiovascular diseases at RBC says hypertension is a medical term but it means ‘raised blood pressure.’ 

He says the range varies and is not supposed to go too low or too high.

The top number is the maximum pressure your heart exerts while beating (systolic pressure), and the bottom number is the amount of pressure in your arteries between beats (diastolic pressure). The numeric difference between your systolic and diastolic blood pressure is called your pulse pressure.

“If your systolic pressure is elevated and your diastolic pressure is not, that doesn’t mean you have isolated systolic hypertension. It most likely means you have standard high blood pressure,” he says.

Basically, he says someone is considered to have high blood pressure when they have 140 out of 90 millimetres of mercury. The blood pressure is normally considered as cardiac output, this is the amount of blood that the heart pumps against different resistance.

He says high blood pressure is a common condition in which the long-term force of the blood against the artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease.

Dr Muhumuza says one can have hypertension for long without their knowledge because the signs and symptoms are rarely there.

Without symptoms, damage to blood vessels and that of the heart continues.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure also increases the risk of one developing serious health problems, including heart attacks.

source: www.newtimes.co.rw