Hypertension is fast becoming the number one killer in Kenya, the Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD) Alliance has warned.
The group’s chairman, Prof Gerald Yonga, also raised the alarm over the rise in the number of Kenyans affected by hypertension but who do not know their status.
Prof Yonga, a board member of the global NCD Alliance, warned that it is estimated that by 2020, heart diseases and other NCDs will increase to become the major causes of deaths in the country.
“Gradually, NCDs such as heart diseases are increasing becoming the major killers in this country,” Prof Yonga told a four-day Kenya Cardiac Society’s annual scientific conference at Whitesands Beach Hotel in Mombasa.
“The diseases represent almost 15 per cent of total deaths in Kenya.”
However, he said, specialists are putting preventive measures to stem the increase in the prevalence and incidence of heart diseases.
He cited hypertension as the most important heart condition in the country, saying its major cause is lifestyle or behavioural risk factors such as foods that are very high in salt, fat and sugar and low in vegetables and fruits.
“Reduction levels of physical activities in our lifestyles, increased smoking tendency in our homes, public places and workplaces and increased use of alcohol is also a contributor,” Prof Yonga said.
He said the four major behavioural risk factors are also leading people to become obese, have high cholesterol levels and be affected by the effects of high blood pressure and sugar.
“In the long run, it leads to blocked arteries, which cause stroke, heart attacks and kidney failure. That is the trend we are trying to stop,” he added.