A professor of medicine with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Christy Okoromah, has linked indiscriminate use of cough syrups and herbal concoctions to the increasing cases of hypertension being diagnosed in children in the country.
Okoromah disclosed this at the World Hypertension Day seminar with the theme, “ Know your Numbers”, organised by Nestle Plc in collaboration with the Nutritional Society of Nigeria in Lagos.
According to the paediatric cardiologist, many over-the-counter medications for children, which contain steroids and other hormones, can induce high blood pressure in kids when administered indiscriminately.
She said, “Many herbal concoctions are prepared with alcohol and a lot of parents administer them on children against their doctors’ advice. We are calling on mothers to stop self medication because not every cough syrup is suitable for kids and many of them contain substances that can lead to high blood pressure.
“Hypertension is no longer an adult disease; about three to five per cent of the children now have it. They have high blood pressure and when it is not properly managed, it can lead to cardiovascular diseases. The challenge is that it is often misdiagnosed because even doctors find it hard to believe.”
In her presentation at the event, Professor of Cardiology at LUTH, Amam Mbakwem, who advised Nigerians to reduce their salt intake, noted that the national prevalence of hypertension in the country was between 40 and 45 per cent.
Mbakwem, who is also the National President of the Nigeria Cardiology Society, described the disease as a public health problem that must be tackled headlong.
She said, “If our national prevalence is 40 to 45 per cent, it simply means that if two people are in a room, one of them is hypertensive.”
The cardiologist implored her colleagues to deliver more patient-oriented care to improve their compliance to medication and lifestyle modification.
“We need to study our patients. For instance, the way you manage the managing director of a company is not the same way you will manage a worker in the assembly line of the same organisation. They must also be involved,”Mbakwem added.
The Minister of Health, Prof.Isaac Adewole, who was represented by the LUTH Chief Medical Director, Prof. Chris Bode, recommended that all patients should be screened for hypertension any time they visited health facilities in the country.
Bode said this would ensure that more Nigerians know their blood pressure levels and encourage early management of the disease.
“It’s high time we stopped ascribing sudden deaths or complications that arise from diseases to other people. We need to change the narrative that someone died because someone didn’t like them.
“Many people are living with disease conditions we can’t see and they don’t know because they have not screened for it. Every adult should know their blood pressure, glucose and cholesterol numbers.”
The Managing Director, Nestle Nigeria, Maurico Alarcon, in his address, stated that the United Nation’s theme, Know Your Numbers, was chosen to increase the number of people in individual countries that had been tested for the disease.
Maurico advised families to adopt health food choices which have been proved to reduce risk for developing hypertension.
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