One in every five (21%) adults in Bangladesh suffers from hypertension, public health experts said at a workshop in Dhaka.
At two workshops for journalists at the Bangladesh Institute of Planners from 28-31 March, they said half the women (51%) and two thirds of men (67%) with hypertension do not know they have high blood pressure.
Hypertension causes increased risks of cardiovascular diseases and related mortality. Hence, mass awareness, affordability of medication and treatment services in this regard need to be ensured, the experts suggested.
PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress), a research and advocacy organisation, with the support of Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI) organised the two-day workshops with fifty-one journalists from print, television, and online portals attending.
Hypertension is determined by measuring blood pressure on two different days and the readings on both days are ≥140/90 mmHg. In some cases of hypertension, symptoms like morning headaches, nosebleeds, irregular heart rhythms, vision changes, and buzzing in the ears may occur.
Untreated hypertension can result in chest pain or angina, heart attack, heart failure, irregular heartbeats, and stroke. Moreover, hypertension can cause kidney damage, the health experts said.
Referring to "Bangladesh Non-communicable Disease (NCD) Steps Survey, 2018", they said less than one in every seven persons has been able to keep their condition under control by taking medication.
Hypertension is one of the three major reasons for death and disability in Bangladesh. Only 29% of health service centers have trained workers to address hypertension according to the Global Burden of Disease Study (GBD) 2019 data.
Following global targets for preventing non-communicable diseases, the government has set a national target of 25% relative reduction of raised blood pressure prevalence by 2025.
Mass awareness must be created around properly measuring hypertension, its treatment, and risks of hypertension-related cardiovascular and other non-communicable diseases. The government must increase budget allocations to ensure hypertension treatment and the availability of medication at all hospitals and primary health care facilities, the experts added.
Moreover, everyone must be made aware of adopting a healthy lifestyle to prevent hypertension, such as avoiding excessive salt intake, abstaining from foods with trans fats, abstaining from the use of tobacco and alcohol, reducing excessive body weight or obesity, and being physically active.
Alarmingly, more than 10 million people die each year from hypertension which is more than all communicable diseases combined.
Syed Mojibul Huq, additional secretary, Health Service Division; Prof Dr Mohammad Robed Amin, line director of the NCDC Program, Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS); Professor Dr Sohel Reza Choudhury, head of Department of Epidemiology & Research, National Heart Foundation; Dr Syed Mahfuzul Huq, National Professional Officer (NCD), World Health Organisation Bangladesh; Dr Md Khalequzzaman, associate professor, Department of Public Health and Informatics at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU); Professor Dr Malay Kanti Mridha, director of Center for Non-Communicable Disease and Nutrition, Brac James P Grant School of Public Health; Muhammad Ruhul Quddus, Bangladesh Country Lead, GHAI; Zahirul Alam, head of News and Current Affairs, NTV, and ABM Zubair, executive director, PROGGA, were present as discussants at the workshops.