Ticking time bomb of hypertension in Egypt

Ingy Deif, Wednesday 6 Aug 2014

In a country where a quarter of the population suffers from high blood pressure and only 8% treat it, experts stress that greater awareness and lifestyle changes are needed

Photo : Reuters
(Photo : Reuters)

Among many Egyptians, lack of awareness and poor lifestyle choices often increase the occurrence of certain diseases and consequently turn these frequent occurrences into chronic issues. Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the most common examples of such a problem.

High blood pressure is dangerous because it gradually weakens the heart by forcing it to work harder to pump and circulate blood throughout the body.

According to the president of the Egyptian Hypertension Society, Dr. Mohsen Ibrahim, studies in 1993 showed that a quarter of the Egyptian population suffers from hypertension. Only twenty-three percent of this segment is subject to treatment.


Dr Ahmed Salama, a cardiology consultant, says that unfortunately most Egyptians lead an unhealthy lifestyle, indulging in fatty food and not paying attention to risk factors that contribute to and worsen hypertension.

Salama told Ahram Online that the exact causes leading to the occurrence of high blood pressure are still shrouded in mystery, but stresses that the existence of certain factors increase the risk of hypertension and serve as warning signs to regularly check blood pressure measurements. Such factors include but are not limited to:

- A family history of blood hypertension.

- The presence of a thyroid gland disorder

- A diet high in salt and/or alcohol

- Being overweight or not exercising

- Suffering from kidney disease

- Smoking 

Nutrition is key

Dr Fawzi El-Shobaki, professor of nutrition at the Egyptian National Research Centre, says that nutrition is always the key. "Whatever problem a person has – diabetes, high blood pressure or others – maintaining the appropriate diet can help a person steer clear of the risks associated with the disease."

El-Shobaki lists the do's and don'ts of food choices in the case of high blood pressure as follows:

- Decrease your intake of salt and foods containing sodium, as salt is known to put more pressure on the blood vessel walls

- Eat fruits and vegetables, as they are rich in magnesium, fibres, and potassium

- Decrease your intake of any kind of meat containing a high percentage of fats, as fat and grease form deposits on the blood vessels causing them to constrict and eventually increase blood pressure.

- Although dairy products contain Vitamin D, which is linked to some benefits regarding decreasing high blood pressure, they are also generally rich in fats and salts, so it is advisable to cut down on them as well

- Substitute butter and margarine with oils; olive oil is the most preferable

The general guidelines for normal blood pressure measurements are (120/80), with each increase putting the person in a higher level of hypertension.


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