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Hypertension leading cause for heart disease: Speakers

TBP Desk
02 Mar 2024 17:32:55 | Update: 02 Mar 2024 17:42:55
Hypertension leading cause for heart disease: Speakers
— Courtesy Photo

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is the leading risk factor for heart disease and accounts for more than 240,000 deaths annually in Bangladesh. This preventable cause of heart attack, stroke, and kidney disease can be tackled by strengthening the primary health care system and increasing allocation in the health budget.

Such information was highlighted during a meet the press event titled "Improving Cardiovascular Health in Bangladesh" held at the InterContinental Dhaka in the capital on Saturday, read a press release.

The event was jointly organised by the National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh (NHFB), PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress), Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), and Resolve to Save Lives (RTSL).

“In Bangladesh, one out of every four adults has hypertension. Bangladesh has made rapid progress in preventing deaths from infectious diseases. Now the country can also be a world leader in preventing heart attacks and strokes,” said Dr Tom Frieden, president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives and former Director of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Bangladesh has made dramatic progress by increasing 20-fold the number of patients on treatment while also doubling the quality of treatment. Investing in the strengthening of primary care services to provide blood pressure treatment can prevent heart attacks and strokes, saving many lives,” he added.

The prevalence of hypertension and other hypertension-related non-communicable diseases in Bangladesh is rapidly increasing due to an aging population, rapid urbanisation, increases in sedentary lifestyles, processed food consumption, and other socioeconomic and lifestyle factors.

To alleviate the burden of non-communicable diseases imposed by hypertension, it is imperative to control blood pressure within the primary healthcare system and ensure the necessary financing is in place to sustain this effort.

Highlighting sodium as one of the major risk factors for hypertension, Dr Frieden said, “Government policies can reduce sodium intake and prevent hypertension. Globally, excess sodium consumption leads to almost 2 million deaths each year. Four out of five of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries.” 

Non-Communicable Disease Control Program (NCDC), Directorate General of Health Services (NCDC DGHS) of the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and the NHFB have been collaborating with RTSL, a global health non-profit organisation, to implement a program that strengthens the detection, treatment and follow-up of hypertension in primary care since 2018. 

“Substantial progress has been made over the past several years with the Bangladesh Hypertension Control Initiative,” said Professor Dr Sohel Reza Choudhury, head of Department of Epidemiology & Research, National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh.

“The program is now active in 171 Upazilla Health Complexes and the blood pressure control rate has doubled from 26 per cent to 52 per cent. Scaling this program will mean more live improved and saved throughout Bangladesh,” he added.

GHAI, along with its partners, also advocates for the improvement of cardiovascular health in Bangladesh. “Health programs must be comprehensive,” said Muhammad Ruhul Quddus, Bangladesh country lead of GHAI.

“We look forward to supporting the continued progress in Bangladesh in controlling blood pressure, increasing medication access, and reducing salt consumption,” he added.

PROGGA Executive Director ABM Zubair, delivered the closing remark at the event.