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.
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