- Hypertension is one of the most significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
- In Kenya, about 44 of the population has been screened for hypertension.
Health workers in Mombasa county have raised concerns over increased cases of cardiovascular diseases in the region.
Thousands of cases of high blood pressure (hypertension), which is one of the most significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease, are being reported in the region.
Last year, the county health department recorded 11,618 cases of hypertension, out of which, some 7,865 were females and 3,618 were males.
Mombasa County Health Executive Swabah Ahmed said hypertension is gradually gaining ground as one of the killer diseases, not only in Mombasa but in the country at large.
“The prevalence rate of hypertension in Africa is estimated to be 46 per cent for individuals above 25 years of age. In Kenya, it ranges between 12.6 to 36.9 per cent while Mombasa county stands at 24 per cent,” Swabah said.
She said effective management of hypertension entails early screening and initiation to therapy.
In Kenya, about 44 per cent of the population has been screened for hypertension, she said.
She said weight loss, increasing physical activity, lowering salt intake, healthy diet, increasing vegetable consumption and limiting alcohol and smoking are some of the measures to prevent hypertension.
Mombasa is undertaking deliberate interventions to stop increased cases of high blood pressure.
“We have routine hypertension screening outreaches and screening for adults in all our health facilities,” she said.
Mombasa County public health department chief officer Pauline Oginga said obesity cases in the region are high and at 50 per cent, according to the latest survey.
Obese persons are prone to hypertension and diabetes.
Oginga said these diseases are becoming common in Mombasa because of lifestyle.
“For example, if you look at common modes of transport in the region, tuk-tuks are the favourite, therefore, most people do not walk often,” she said.
She added that on diet intake, the majority of the locals are fond of fried potatoes which have a lot of starch and fats.
“This dietary aspect and the lack of exercise contributes a lot to the people being exposed to hypertension,” she said.
In 2020, Oginga said they decentralised the diabetic clinics to the lower level of health facilities and deployed health experts to attend to patients at that level.
“By doing this, we wanted to make this service available to the lower-level facilities. We want people to only come to the referral facilities if they are unable to be attended to at the lower facilities,” she said.
At the same time, Oginga encouraged Mombasa residents to engage more in physical exercises that include walking around.
“You can dedicate 30 minutes or even one hour to just walk around your house, that will be a big step in preventing cardiovascular diseases,” she said.
Oginga said the majority of people who have hypertension are not even aware of their ill health.
“Unless one becomes sick with severe headaches, palpitation or something else, they do not know they actually have hypertension. They will only come to know this while in the hospital and the blood pressure is so high, and most of the time it ends with stroke or heart attack,” she said.
Peter Nyaga, General Manager at Equity Afya said they are working with the Ministry of Health to create awareness on the disease of hypertension.
“We have clinics in different parts of the country where we are providing primary healthcare services to the community in order to make healthcare more affordable and bringing it closer to people,” he said.
-Edited by SKanyara