Wednesday, May 17, 2023
The Department of Health has urged South Africans to go for regular hypertension screenings, as high blood pressure is referred to as the “silent killer” because in most cases people may show no symptoms.
Today, on May 17, the global community is commemorating World Hypertension Day, a day dedicated to highlighting the importance of monitoring blood pressure and bringing global awareness to the one billion people living with high blood pressure worldwide.
Meanwhile, the department, supported by its stakeholders in the sector, is also observing Salt Awareness Week from 15 to 21 May to raise awareness about the harmful practice of excessive salt consumption.
This year’s World Hypertension Day is commemorated under the theme: ‘Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer’, whereas Salt Awareness Week is observed under ‘Ditch the salt for the sake of our heart’.
According to the department, hypertension is one of the most serious risk factors for death and is responsible for almost 13% of all deaths globally.
In South Africa, the department said, almost one in three adults live with high blood pressure and it is responsible for one in every two strokes, and two in every five heart attacks.
Hypertension mainly affects adults, however, increased rates of obesity and related risk factors, including obesity, diabetes, and tobacco use are resulting in younger persons presenting with hypertension.
“Uncontrolled high blood pressure raises the risk for heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death and disability,” the department explained.
On the other hand, the relationship between salt and high blood pressure has been well documented since high levels of salt intake are linked to hypertension, which in turn is one of the causes of stroke, cardiovascular disease, and kidney disease amongst others.
High salt intake has also been linked to osteoporosis, kidney stones and stomach cancer.
“South Africa is the first country globally to develop comprehensive, mandatory legislation to reduce sodium levels across a wide range of processed food categories, which involved the co-operation of many food industry members.
“While the country’s salt reduction approach has inspired the world, much more needs to be done to reduce salt intake and to encourage the food industry to reduce levels of salt in food,” the statement read. – SAnews