BY ASHENAFI ZEDEBUB
“Some people groups are particularly affected on the continent of Africa and in the populations of African Americans,” says one research paper, which has been distributed from investigators residing in the United States. Why “in particular Africa and African American populations”? According to the research conducted for almost three decades, nobody has so far given the precise answer to this question. It is nevertheless worth noting that scholars are still on the move as to provide the public with the accurate reply.
According to scholars, there is a strong relationship between excessive salt intake and the development of high blood pressure medically known as “hypertension”. In most people, hypertension causes no symptoms at all, in spite of the coincidental of certain signs that are believed widely to be associated with the disease. Physicians now and then make aware of facts, erroneously believed by patients, concerning symptoms “connected with hypertension.” Headaches, nosebleeds, dizziness, flushed face and tiredness are the symptoms “erroneously believed” to be associated with it. As investigators pointed out, although people with hypertension may have the said symptoms, they occur as frequently in those with normal blood pressure. It has been underlined by physicians that the best way to control blood pressure is the constant checkup whenever possible, in view of the fact that one cannot always expect to feel signs of discomfort related to it.
Hypertension is usually said to be “difficult to treat.” As with all cases of hypertension, lifestyle changes are very important. In the management of hypertension, lifestyle interventions include achieving ideal body weight; cessation of smoking and any form of tobacco use; avoidance of alcohol; daily exercise and, indeed, reduction of salt intake. As regards exercise, experts in the province suggest a precise figure; i.e. 10,000 steps per day or at least 30 minutes of physical exercise seven days a week.
Concerning the intake of salt, nutritionists are of the opinion that salt is by all means present in many foods. However, people add salt to the already salted food, even before they happen to have tasted it. Salt is mostly seen to be added to snack foods such as chips, nuts and peanuts. Although large amounts of salt is present in canned, pickled and preserved foods, people still add some more when it is served at the table. Nevertheless, it is commonly accepted that daily intake of salt should not exceed 2300mg and 1500mg for those with higher cardio vascular risk, which includes those over 50 years of age. Doctors nowadays advise to take much less salt in order to be healthy.
Here in Ethiopia, I see my compatriots mostly being fond of salty foods in addition to the already fully spiced, processed “aged butter” as well as the very hot sauce imbued with chilly and pepper. Physicians advising not to take such type of foods are not that much popular amongst patients, as one medical doctor told me. But it is without doubt that the presence of hypertension nowadays in our society may partly be as a result of such harmful nutrition. Mind you, hypertension is a “silent killer! I have nevertheless not received any precise data on the extent of the disease. What about you?