SPONSORED: 1 in 2 South Africans Have High Blood Pressure

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Roll up your sleeves and get your BP tested. (Image: Supplied)
Roll up your sleeves and get your BP tested. (Image: Supplied)

In an effort to reverse this trend, Because I Say So, a public health campaign, orchestrated by Servier and recognised by the International Society of Hypertension (ISH) and the Southern African Hypertension Society (SAHS), is calling on South Africans to go and get their BP tested. This year the campaign message is even more crucial as hypertension has been identified as one of the main factors in the occurrence of more severe symptoms in patients with Covid-19. Added to this, fewer patients have been able to be diagnosed due to greater difficulties in accessing their health care practitioners since the outbreak began.  This is alarming when you consider that 44 - 46% of adults over the age of 15 in South Africa have high BP3 - but only 50% know they are affected4.

The reason so many are unaware that they have elevated BP levels is there are no symptoms and you don’t feel ill until you have a cardiac event like a heart attack.

Dr Martin Mpe a Gauteng-based Cardiologist and president of the South African Hypertension Society explains, “High BP is acknowledged as the ‘silent killer’ because it’s just that. Despite there being no indications or symptoms of ill health, this invisible illness can potentially, if left unchecked, lead to serious heart disease, stroke and even death. Other complications can include heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, renal damage, retinal hemorrhage, and visual impairment. With relatively few people making the connection between raised BP and the devastating consequences of the illness - awareness levels need urgent attention to curb the exponential growth of the disease in South Africa.”

A BP test is the only way to find out if BP levels are elevated – a non-invasive and really quick measure that will immediately determine if levels are unacceptably high. South Africans are being reminded to go to their local pharmacy, clinic or doctor to get tested.

The number of people with raised BP is on an upward trajectory, particularly in low and middle-income countries in Africa, with no signs of slowing down. Of great concern is that research has shown that the highest worldwide BP levels shifted from high-income countries to low-income, developing countries, and by 2015, sub-Saharan Africa joined central and Eastern Europe and south Asia as the regions with the highest global BP levels5.

Prof Brian Rayner, nephrologist and past director of the Hypertension Institute at the University of Cape Town says, “Elevated BP is subject to the rule of halves. “50% of the population is unaware of their condition, 50% of those who are aware do not take treatment, and 50% of those who take treatment are not controlled, leaving only 12.5 % of the total population who are controlled.”

Cleary that BP management is all about the numbers and these figures indicate that treatment goals are not being met and it’s time to retool.

Reinforcing this, Mpe adds “More than 1/3 of people treated for hypertension stop their treatment after only six months while 50% of people with hypertension stop their treatment completely after one year.6This lack of adherence prevents BP from returning to normal and has very important and severe consequences, including an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke7. Early research shows that people with high BP may be more likely to experience worse symptoms, or complications from COVID-19 and are at higher risk of dying from the virus. In fact, the risk is about twice as high as that of the overall population.”

Know your numbers. Roll up your sleeves and get your BP tested.

For more on hypertension health – go to: https://www.myhealth-partner.co.za/

#checkyourpressure #takeyourmedicine #becauseIsaySo


  1. Source: World Health Organization (WHO).
  2. Ref Poulter N et al. Lancet. 2015;386(9995):801-812.
  3. SA Demographic and Health Survey: https://www.statssa.gov.za/publications/Report%2003-00-09/Report%2003-00-092016.pdf
  4. Olsen MH, Angell SY, Asma S, et al. Lancet. 2016;388:2665-2712.
  5. Worldwide trends in blood pressure from 1975 – 2015: a pooled analysis of 1479 population-based measurement  studies with 19.1million participants. NCD Risk Factor Collaboration – www.thelancet.com Vol 389, January 7, 2017 (a: pg 37, b: pg 45)
  6. Ref Chowdhury R et al. Eur Heart J. 2013;34(38):2940-2948

This post and content is sponsored, written and provided by Servier.

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