Saturday 6 June 2020 \

 

Around 50% UAE residents ignorant of high blood pressure risks

A nation-wide survey has shown that awareness of high blood pressure (HBP) in the UAE is a key concern, with close to half of the respondents not perceiving the condition as potentially fatal or being 'unaware of its symptoms.'
 
Of these, Emiratis topped at 62 per cent as well as those in the age group of 18-24 years (58 per cent), according to results from a survey conducted by Cigna and YouGov.
 
Half the respondents, who do not suffer from HBP, are also not aware of the complexities caused by the condition. Statistics from 2015 show that 30 per cent of the UAE residents are currently battling HBP. The survey was held among 1,000 UAE residents in August and was announced by Cigna, a health services company and the Dubai Health Authority (DHA), during the launch of the campaign 'Heart Your Hear' to raise awareness of heart health among residents.
 
The campaign will be carried out in phases over three years by initiating a dialogue on policy and regulation, driving behavioural change about heart health and creating an impactful outcome as a result of educating the public and medical fraternity. In phase one, the campaign will raise awareness about HBP or hypertension, through a range of outreach efforts.
 
According to the survey, 44 per cent of those quizzed, did not perceive the condition as potentially fatal. Half the respondents who do not suffer from HBP are also not aware of the complexities caused by the condition. The survey also highlights a prevailing false perception among UAE residents of a correlation between HBP and its 'symptoms'.
 
Experts said that HBP patients may not display any symptoms, leading to the condition being labelled as a "silent killer."
 
"Heart disease is responsible for 30 per cent of deaths in Dubai, with the numbers rising rapidly," said Dr Mohamed Farghaly, senior specialist, family medicine and head of Insurance Medical Regulation, at the DHA. Dr Farghaly said that even as 30 per cent people in the country were hypertensive, the numbers could increase to 45 per cent for those aged 60 and above in the coming years.
 
"Of these, only 3-6 per cent have well controlled hypertension. It takes long to label them as hypertensive and treatment is lifelong," he said. In UAE, people are screened at the age of 30 according to the national guidelines as compared to globally.
 
"Conditions brought about by HBP are covered by insurance in emergency under the basic health coverage plan," said Dr Farghaly.
 
Currently, 4.8 million people in Dubai are insured of which 8-9 per cent is diabetic. "All insurance companies are required to keep a record of the treatments and soon we will also have the exact number of people with HBP too," he added.
 
"Although individuals over 40 years are identified as having a higher propensity for HBP, preventative measures and early detection is essential from as early as 18 years of age," said Dr Farghaly.
 
During the last quarter of 2018, Cigna will support DHA-led educational sessions to connect with the medical fraternity, health providers and insurance practitioners on best practices in diagnosing and treating HBP. In addition, mobile HBP screening clinics will take place at Cigna's monthly Park Run events, including the upcoming run taking place at Zabeel Park on October 6.
 

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