The number of people suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure, a major risk factor for NCDs (Non-communicable Diseases), especially cardiovascular disease, has been increasing in Bangladesh day by day, which has posed an alarming threat to human health.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), hypertension, also known as high or raised blood pressure, is a condition in which the blood vessels have persistently raised pressure. Hypertension significantly increases the risks of heart, brain, kidney and other diseases.
“The number of patients suffering from hypertension has been increasing in Bangladesh day by day. The prevalence of hypertension among people aged over 18 years is now 25 percent here,” Prof Dr Roved Amin, Line Director (NCDC) of Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), told the Daily Sun.
The DGHS official said excessive salt intake, unhealthy foods, physical inactivity and mental stress are the main risk factors for hypertension in the country.
Hospital sources said the number of patients suffering from hypertension has not only been increasing in urban or city areas of the country but also in rural areas.
While visiting Choto Desh Community Clinic in Beanibazar upazila of Sylhet district on October 4, this correspondent found that a number of hypertension patients came to the clinic for follow-up screening there.
“Around one year back, I came to know that I’m suffering from hypertension. Then I registered in the NCD corner of Beanibazar upazila health complex. Since then, I have been taking medicine to keep my blood pressure under control,” Shefa Begum, 38, of Khashdipara village in the upazila, said.
Talking to the Daily Sun, Md Mahbubur Rahman, Community Health Care Provider (CHCP), said they had started screening hypertension among patients since 2019 and started to refer the patients to the NCD corner of the respective upazila health complex.
“The number of hypertension patients has been increasing. At least two to three patients are being detected with hypertension at our clinic everyday. Around 70 percent of the patients, who come under screening here, have been detected with hypertension problem,” the CHCP said.
Mahbubur Rahman further said 165 hypertension patients were registered from January to September this year while a total of 202 patients were reported in 2019.
While visiting Fenchuganj Upazila Health Complex on October 3, this correspondent saw a huge crowd of hypertension patients as the suspected hypertension patients were being screened and the registered patients came for follow-up check-up and taking medicine.
“At the NCD coroner in our upazila health complex, on an average 50 new hypertension and diabetes patients, including 30 hypertension patients, come for treatment every day,” Dr Md Kamruzzaman, Fenchuganj Upazila Health & Family Planning Officer, told the Daily Sun.
Mentioning that they had launched the NCD corner at the health complex in April 2019, he said a total of 6,231 hypertension patients are already registered with the upazila health complex.
“Among the NCD patients, around 60 percent are hypertension patients who come to take treatment here. Unhealthy lifestyle and genetic problem are mostly responsible for hypertension of the patients in the area,” Umma Salma Liza, Medical Officer at the Fenchuganj Upazila Health Complex, said.
The WHO said hypertension is a major cause of premature death worldwide, with upwards of 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women – over a billion people – having the condition.
According to STEPS Bangladesh 2018 report, among people aged 18 years and older, 21 percent (24.1 percent women and 17.9 percent men) people were found with hypertension.
Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey 2017-18 said the country sees a significant rise in hypertensive patients as about 45 percent of the women and 34 percent of the men aged 35 years and older are suffering from hypertension in Bangladesh in 2017-18 tenure while 32 percent women and 20 percent men of the same age group were suffering from the disease in 2011.
The report further said the number of hypertension patients was 3crore in Bangladesh in 2020 and it will rise to 3.8crorein 2030.
Global Burden of Disease Study 2019 said hypertension is among the main three reasons for death and physical disability in Bangladesh.
According to the WHO, over five lakh people die of Non-communicable Disease in Bangladesh every year while over 50percent of the deaths caused by hypertension.
The Bangladesh government has adopted multi-sectoral action plan 2018-25 to prevent and control non-communicable disease. In the plan, the government has fixed target of relative reduction of prevalence of high blood pressure by 25 percent.
As part of the initiative to control and prevent the prevalence of hypertension, the NCD control programme of DGHS has set up NCD corner in 54 upazila level and hypertension screening facility in Community Clinics at different districts of the country.
“We will set up NCD corner in at least 200 upazilas soon. And in phases, the NCD corner will be set up in all government hospitals, medical colleges and upazila health clinics across the country,” Robed Amin of the DGHS told the Daily Sun.
The WHO said an estimated 1.28 billion adults aged 30-79 years worldwide have hypertension, most (two-thirds) living in low- and middle-income countries.
An estimated 46 percent of adults with hypertension are unaware that they have the condition. Less than half of adults (42 percent) with the disease are diagnosed and treated. Approximately 1 in 5 adults (21 percent) have it under control, it said.
Mentioning that hypertension is a major cause of premature death worldwide, WHO said one of the global targets for NCDs is to reduce prevalence of hypertension by 33 percent between 2010 and 2030.
Prof Dr Sohel Reza Choudhury, head of Department of Epidemiology and Research at National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh, said increasing life expectancy, unhealthy lifestyle, high intake of salt, sugar and physical inactivity are among the main reasons behind rising hypertensive patients.
“The government has to take some policies like increasing physical activity facilities, to ensure healthy rate of salt and sugar in foods, and to make people aware of the problem for reducing the number of hypertension patients,” the epidemiologist said.