Coronavirus has negatively impacted people suffering from hypertension, which is the primary risk factor for cardiovascular diseases claiming millions of lives every year, said Dr. Mustafa Kemal Erol, the head of the Turkish Cardiology Association.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency on the World Hypertension Day, Erol said hypertension, besides increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks, also leads to kidney failure and development of cerebrovascular disease.
He said cardiovascular and circulatory system diseases are still the primary cause of death in the world and Turkey apart from the coronavirus pandemic. He urged people not to forget other deadly cardiovascular system diseases.
“COVID-19 is of course our primary area of struggle, but this does not mean that chronic diseases and other causes of death have disappeared. When we look at the death statistics in Turkey, we see that 37.1% of all deaths in 2019 are due to circulatory system diseases,” he said.
He said while hypertension has no link with the virus, the infection gets more severe in patients with existing heart problems.
“Patients with target organ damage due to hypertension, including patients with cardiovascular system diseases such as heart failure, heart attack, kidney failure, the infection has a more devastating effect. The course of the disease becomes more severe, and more patients die,” he said.
He said since the pandemic has forced people to remain indoors, it can lead to serious problems such as inactivity, weight gain, and obesity.
“This inactivity increased the risk of obesity and stress. We are saddened to lose our beloved ones. All these incidents have negatively affected the blood pressure and cardiovascular disease,” he said.
He advised people over 65 years old, where the incidence of hypertension is already high, to remain physically active even at home since they are restricted to go out for more than a year.
“We recommend our patients to pay close attention to their diets, not to abandon the salt-free diet for blood pressure patients, to do simple physical-fitness exercises and, to not eat when they are bored, not to gain weight, and to restrict their calorie intake,” he added.
- Insidious disease
He also said hypertension patients should not stop taking their medicines and check their blood pressure regularly.
Noting that one in three people have hypertension in Turkey, Erol said 45% of the patients are not even aware of the illness.
“Hypertension is an insidious disease and its symptoms are extremely subtle. It may give general symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and tinnitus,” he said, adding that people learn this “painful truth” after suffering a heart attack or stroke.
He said that these patients cannot receive treatment as they are not diagnosed.
“Our goal is to diagnose all of these patients on time and to minimize the risk at the country level by making appropriate treatments,” he noted.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hypertension, also known as high or raised blood pressure, is a condition in which the blood vessels have persistently raised pressure.
The WHO said that hypertension is diagnosed if blood pressure readings are higher than 140/90 or above on two different days.