More young Pinoys getting ‘high blood’

blood-pressureBy Sol Aragones – Before you pop those salty chips or crispy pork rinds in your mouth, consider this: more and more Filipinos are falling sick from hypertension or high blood pressure.

Dr. Ma. Belen Carisma, head of the Philippine Heart Association (PHA), said that based on their organization’s 2007 survey, more and more younger patients are being diagnosed with hypertension in the country mainly due to unhealthy or “sinful” lifestyles.

The nationwide survey, conducted from June to April 2007, showed that out of 3,415 adult respondents ages 18 and above, 21 percent were hypertensive. This was reportedly a sharp increase from previous PHA surveys in 1992 and 1997 and the 2003 National Nutrition and Health Survey.

The study also found that the incidence of hypertension was more marked in Metro Manila (33%) followed by Southern Tagalog (26%) while the lowest prevalence was in Western Visayas (9%). Hypertension was also more prevalent among members of Class C (29%) and lowest in Class E (16%).

Carisma said that although more young Filipinos are getting affected by the sickness, it is more common among those aged 50 and above.

Endless junk food diets, low physical activity, and processed foods high in sodium and fat are just some of the causes for the increase in cases of hypertension in the country.

The PHA said stress, smoking, and regular alcohol consumption may also lead to hypertension by way of constricting the blood vessels.

“We’ve become very Westernized, if you notice we always eat at fast food [restaurants] from abroad. Times are hard also, so working moms tend to make up for lost time by taking their children out to eat, but they bring them to fast food [joints] because it is cheaper,” a PHA official told

“Young people today are also getting less physical activity because of electronic gadgets. Before, kids would play basketball, but now they are just sitting in front of the computer, they are texting, they have PlayStation 2, and everything like watching television is done by remote control,” she added.

Silent killer

The PHA’s 2007 study on hypertension also found that a percentage of hypertensive Filipinos are not aware that they are sick. Of the 717 adult survey respondents who were found to be hypertensive, 24 percent (or 21 percent of the total adult respondents) said they were not aware that they had hypertension, while 76 percent (or 16 percent of total adult respondents) were aware that they were hypertensive.

One such victim of hypertension is John Paterno, 22, who started getting frequent headaches and pain on the nape without knowing what it was. Paterno linked his illness to his penchant for eating the fatty parts of pork and beef, as well as chicken skin.

Department of Health (DOH) officials earlier reminded the public to have their blood pressure regularly checked starting at the age of 18 years old. Doctors recommend seeking immediate medical help for those exhibiting symptoms of hypertension like high blood pressure, dizziness, pains at the nape of the neck, and blurry vision.

“Hypertension itself does not kill, but it is dangerous because unless controlled, it inevitable results in complications that are often fatal. These complications include heart disease and stroke, which according to [2003 DOH statistics] are the first and second leading causes of death for Filipinos,” said Dr. Eduardo G. Gonzales of the De La Salle University-Dasmarinas in a study published by the Philippine Council for Health and Development.

Experts say avoiding salty and fatty foods, exercising regularly, and avoiding smoking or drinking are ways to prevent hypertension.

For those already diagnosed with the condition, Understanding Varicose Veins Treatment in Older People is important and doctors recommend drinking maintenance medicines regularly to prevent heart attacks (damage to the heart’s muscle, causing blood flow problems) or stroke (when arteries are blocked, preventing blood flow to the brain).

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