UAE | Health

Hypertension risk higher in the UAE

Cardiologists urge people to cut intake of salt to reduce risk of premature death

  • By Mahmood Saberi, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 February 1, 2011
  • Gulf News

One billion people worldwide suffer from hypertension
  • Image Credit: Rex Features
  • One billion people worldwide suffer from hypertension.

Dubai: Leading heart doctors in Dubai have called for a national screening for hypertension as nearly half the national population is thought to be suffering from this silent killer.

Cardiologists are recommending that people cut their intake of salt to between 5 grams and 6 grams per day to reduce the risk of premature death.

They suggested that secondary school children undergo health screening and called on the government to require processed foods manufacturers to use less salt in their products.

Dr Azzan Bin Braik, consultant cardiologist at Rashid Hospital, said heart attacks and strokes which were the complications of high blood pressure were very expensive to treat.

High blood pressure (BP) in the UAE was much higher than the world average at 41 per cent of the population, he said.

He said that even bread had a high salt content and that a campaign in the UK had helped reduce salt in manufactured foods.

The cardiologist said many patients were unaware they were suffering from high BP and a very small number were being treated.

Another 19 per cent of the UAE population was pre-hypertensive, which means that 60 per cent of the people were susceptible to this serious debilitating disease, he said.

Improved statistics

Dr Afzal Hussain Yousuf Ali, cardiologist at the Dubai Heart Centre, Dubai Hospital, said the situation could be reversed.

He said Finland which had the highest number of deaths due to heart attacks and strokes improved the grim statistics after cutting down the daily salt intake nationally from 14 grams to 8 grams.

The doctor said a large number of Emiratis and expatriates from the sub-continent suffered heart attacks. "We have patients who are 10 years younger than the world average [as young as 30 years]," he said. Stress, depression and major events such as job loss were other causes of heart attacks, he said.

The doctors said a new triple-combination drug would help to better control the disease and improve patient's compliance. Many patients suffering from high BP also suffer from diabetes and did not follow medication instructions.

High risk of diseases

  • Doctors recommend that your blood pressure be 120/80mmHg
  • 41 per cent of UAE national population has BP of 140/90mmHg or higher
  • High BP dramatically increases risk of heart disease and stroke
  • One billion people worldwide suffer from hypertension
  • Doctors recommend cutting down salt intake to less than a teaspoon per day


Do you think screening secondary school students is a good idea? Would you consider cutting your salt intake to reduce your chances of suffering from from high blood pressure or hypertension? Tell us

Comments (4)

  1. Added 18:22 February 1, 2011

    A thorough screening is to be done in school students in order to avoid the harmful effects of hypertension which may ultimately end in stroke. Another important factor is that Hypertension is only an outward symptom which may be due to some disorders in the internal organs like for eg: kidneys or heart. so a complete investigation is required and thereby a proper treatment can be achieved. To a great extent, reduction in the intake of salt is useful to reduce a high BP.

    SINDU, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 16:47 February 1, 2011

    There are more useful recomendations for those people who have hypertention. such as reducing fat in their food, exercising at least 30 minutes everyday, stop smoking, having enough NIGHT sleeping hours & do their best not to be nervous!! because anger is very very dangerous & causes a sudden raise in the BP & it is hardly to control it. thanks for GN.

    Juan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 16:32 February 1, 2011

    I have been a hypertensive patient since six years. Hypertension can be treated with good medicines that are available now. I am under medication since 6 years. But as it says hypertension is a silent killer it has slowly created other complications in my body. Thanks to the stressful life we all undergo these days. But i would strongly advise that if feeling uncomfortable always get your BP checked and start immediate medication if required. Do not wait for the worst to come.

    zubin , dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 13:28 February 1, 2011

    It is not possible to attain complete risk free status. People, when they see this fact they get an aversion to make any effort at all. If there are chances of succumbing to heart attacks in spite of all efforts, what is the use of trying? So there is a need of making people understand the probabilities and chances of getting the attack and the importance of aiming at reducing the chances rather than trying to become completely risk free.

    sureshpai, Mangalore, India

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