The rise of high blood pressure in Pakistan affecting youth

Health experts issued a cautionary note on Thursday, signaling the presence of a silent epidemic of high blood pressure affecting more than 3 million individuals in Pakistan. The prevalence of this concerning condition reaches a staggering 23% among young people aged 18-29, a statistic attributed to unhealthy dietary patterns and sedentary lifestyles.

In an interview with a private news channel, the renowned Cardiologist Prof Dr Fawad Tariq expressed deep concern about the alarming rise in high blood pressure cases in Pakistan, particularly among women over the age of 45. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, he emphasized the necessity for widespread awareness campaigns focusing on the adoption of healthy dietary choices, proper care, and preventive measures to curb the escalating spread of the disease.

Highlighting a crucial aspect, Dr. Tariq emphasized that high blood pressure, traditionally associated with the elderly, is increasingly affecting the younger population as well, posing a silent yet significant threat. He pointed out the growing trend of incorporating fast food and processed snacks into the diets of many young Pakistanis. The excessive consumption of sodium, unhealthy fats, and sugary treats, he warned, adversely impacts blood pressure levels, laying the groundwork for hypertension.

Proposing a proactive approach, Dr. Tariq suggested that embracing healthier lifestyle habits has the potential to reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure and contribute to its control in those already affected. Activities such as meditation, yoga, and mindfulness were underscored as powerful tools for stress mitigation and overall well-being, particularly for the younger demographic.

Quoting findings from the recent Pakistan Adolescents Schools Survey, Dr. Tariq revealed that more than 80% of adolescents in the country follow unhealthy diets. Additionally, a World Health Organization (WHO) study disclosed that a significant percentage of adolescents, 82.8% of boys and 87.3% of girls aged 13-15, lacked sufficient physical activity. Another study linked the physical inactivity of 54.3% of Pakistani adolescents to factors such as the absence of school playgrounds and a lack of parental support.

In light of these concerning trends, Dr. Tariq stressed the vital role of combined community education and healthcare provider education in effectively controlling hypertension. The urgency of addressing this silent epidemic in Pakistan, affecting both the young and the elderly, is underscored by the need for comprehensive strategies that encompass awareness, lifestyle modification, and healthcare interventions.

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