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Why is hypertension becoming epidemic in Ghana?

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Health

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The increasing dramatic rate of

According to World Health Organisation (WHO), cardiovascular diseases (CDV) was the leading cause of death between 1991 and 2001. Hypertension which is simply put known as high blood pressure is a risk factor in CDV. This health issue could lead to stroke, heart attack or even death. Sadly this non-communicable disease is not receiving so much attention despite its deadly nature.

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So we have all been hearing blood pressure, what exactly is it? The heart as the centre pump for all the blood in our bodies. And blood runs in our bodies through the veins. Now, blood is supposed to run through the veins with little resistance hence the existence of a normal blood pressure.

But if for some reason there is high resistance against the blood flow through the veins from their inner walls, then the heart has to exert more pressure to pump force the blood through. This is what creates increased blood pressure and subsequently hypertension. Resistance could be form clogged veins and arteries as a result of fat lining the walls.

Per the medical guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA), hypertension is blood pressure higher than 130/80 mmHg. So, what then is normal? Blood pressure which records between120/80 and 130/80 mmHg. This isn’t only a concern for Ghana or Sub Sahara Africa but a very global health concern.

As Ghanaians got more ‘sophisticated’, so did their preferences for foods. Unfortunately we have shun our local delicacies prepared with organic produce and developed taste for much salty and oily foods. Sometime back, campaigns promoting sunflower oil hit us so forcefully that a lot of us succumbed to the pressure.

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Shortly after, we saw our markets flooded with gallons and bottle of it. After I did some reading, I found out that sunflower oil was actually not as healthy as portrayed. Sticking to our local palm oil and coconut oil was so much better.  And that all hype was done by importers and traders because they wanted to create a market for their goods.

Migrating into the cities and town, has left a lot of us inactive. We know longer walk miles to our farms, schools, market place or visit our friends and neighbours. The convenience of cars/ public transports have been both a blessing and a curse to us. I sometimes watch with disgust how we could have about 3 unconventional bus stops in a space of 100 meters. As we have grown lazy with our exercises, our health slowly suffered.

Recently, an article was by the New York Times which seemed to suggest that our president is obese. This article was targeted at the alarming rate of fast food joints and obesity in Ghana. Looking beyond the offensive comments about the president, there is some truth to what is being said. All over our cities, we witness the sprouts of global fast food chains and restaurant. These global giants have a foremost priority and that is to make profit, this is sadly to the determent of our health.

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Another take is on the increase in processed food consumption in Ghana as a contributing factor to this health problem. The use of excessive seasoning products in our dishes also significantly increases our salt intake. Most of these products are just salts in different variations put together. True, they make our dishes taste sweeter, but have your tried natural herbs and spices? Next time have a pinch of thyme, rosemary and some cinnamon in your stew instead and tell us what you think.

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Despite all these overwhelming negatives, a change in lifestyle can manage the situation and even reduce the numbers significantly. Eating healthier and exercising regularly can help boost our health in general.

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World Health Organisation (WHO