Dubai: The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) issued updated guidelines on hypertension on Sunday, with an advice for those over the age of 30 to go for screening to reduce the risk of cardiovascular incidents, including early death from a heart attack.
The new guidelines, updated every four years, follow last year’s guidelines by the European Society of Cardiology Society (ESC) and the European Society of Hypertension (ESH).
Outlining the highlights of the guidelines, Dr Murali Krishna Neelkantan, specialist cardiologist at Prime Hospital said: “According to the European guidelines, the optimal blood pressure levels are 120/70. Readings in the range of 120-129 systolic and 70-79 diastolic are considered normal, and reading above 140/90 is defined as stage one hypertension.”
As per ESC/ESH guidelines, early detection and preventive screening is the key to delaying the early onset of hypertension.
Everyone above the age of 30 must go in for preventive screening of blood pressure levels.
If diagnosed with Stage 1 hypertension, they must also go in for a 3-6 month therapeutic treatment of the condition.
This mainly includes the reduction of weight to lower the Basal Metabolic Index (BMI), which is the indicator of the resting metabolism of an individual.
In order to achieve goals, the therapeutic treatment recommends many lifestyle changes, including:
- Regular exercise for 45 minutes to an hour every day
- A low sodium diet with emphasis on fruits, vegetables, fish and nuts
- A proper exercise regimen
- Low to nil alcohol intake
- Smoke cessation
- Increased intake of potassium supplements, among other steps
In retrospect, these steps are being taken by the health ministry because the National Health Survey 2017-2018, indicated that in a span of six years the incidence of hypertension has doubled in the UAE.
The survey which covered over 50,000 residents included both Emiratis and expatriates, and revealed that nearly 28.8 per cent people suffer from high blood pressure compared to 14.7 per cent in 2010.
Dr Neelkantan added: “The ESC/ESH guidelines, which our health ministry is following, calls for close monitoring and preventive screening, and taking the preventive steps can completely reverse or delay the condition thereby bringing down the high incidence of hypertension in the country.”
How hypertension is directly linked to heart disease
The health ministry has introduced these guidelines with a goal to reduce the incidence of Cardio Vascular Diseases (CVD) from 300 deaths per 100,000 population to 150 deaths by 2021. Bringing down the threshold of incidence of diseases like hypertension is key to reduction in heart disease.
Dr Tamer Taha, consultant cardiologist at the Medcare Hospital Sharjah
Highlighting the link of hypertension to Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD) Dr Tamer Taha, consultant cardiologist at the Medcare Hospital Sharjah told Gulf News: “Hypertension is described as a silent killer as it effects vital organs like the eyes, kidneys, heart and brain.
"High blood pressure is directly linked to artheriosclerosis or accumulation of High Density Lipo protein (HDL) or bad cholesterol in our arteries which results in heart attacks and even strokes.
"The reason for heart disease being the No.1 killer in the country can be linked to the incidence of high blood pressure. Hypertension is also linked to aortic dissection where the aorta splits into two, which is fatal unless immediate life-saving surgery is sought.
"The updated guidelines of issued by the health ministry call for early detection and preventive lifestyle tweaks which will have a long lasting impact on not just hypertension but many other conditions such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol in the UAE.”