MANILA - The Philippine Heart Association has noted an increase in hypertension cases among the country's adults and adolescents based on a survey it released, as it described the rate as "alarming."
The study titled "Presyon 4" showed that hypertension prevalence in the country increased to 37 percent in 2021 among adults 18 years old and above from 28 percent 8 years ago, with incidence of 52 percent among males and 48 percent among females.
The study, led by cardiologist and hypertension specialist Dr. Jorge Sison with the help of the Philippine Heart Association and Council on Hypertension, was conducted on 2,796 subjects from January 2021 to April 2021 around the country.
For Sison, the results are a cause for concern.
"Masyadong malaki ang jump nung 2021, 37 percent whereas 8 years ago 'yung ginawa naming survey... 28 percent only so malaki ang jump," says Sison.
Possible reasons include genetics, lifestyle, stress and the effect of the pandemic.
He said intermarriages play a factor, with the spread made through a person with family history of hypertension marrying someone without one.
As for lifestyle, lack of exercise and being sedentary, with hours spent on gadgets are also a factor. Consumption of fast food products that are rich in fat, salt and carbohydrates may also cause the onset of hypertension. And of course, stress is also among causes of high blood pressure.
"Plus 'yung pandemic... sa laki ng increase nakadagdag diyan 'yung stress, anxiety because of the fear. Plus of course 'yung walang exercise, naka-lock down ka, wala kang choice ng food di ka nakabili ng magandang choice mo puro delivery," said Sison, who is the current PHA research coordinator for hypertension and the association's past president.
(Plus the pandemic... the big increase is caused by stress, anxiety because of the fear. Plus of course you lack exercise, you are locked down. You have no choice in food because you just get delivery.)
Results showed 18 percent of those surveyed did not know they had hypertension.
"They were discovered to be hypertensive only because they were part of the survey.... Ito ang mga people na at risk of complications kasi di sila nagpapagamot, kasi wala namang nararamdaman, di nagpapa-blood pressure... heart failure, stroke, kidney complication," he said.
(These are people who are at risk of complications because they don't get treated, because they don't feel anything, don't monitor their blood pressure... there's heart failure, stroke, kidney complication.)
With the upward trajectory, Sison believes hypertension prevalence will continue to increase, and "there is no turning back."
He said it is "inevitable" to "progressively increase in the coming years."
"Di ako magtataka kung in 5-8 years to come 'yung 37 (percent) mo maging 40, or 40 plus. Sa ibang bansa if you look at the data of Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia ganun din ang prevalence rate eh. Global phenomenon na. Mga first world country, grabe ang taas nila-- nasa halos kalahati ng populasyon nila," he said.
(It won't be surprising if in 5-8 years 37 percent will become 40 or 40 plus. In other countries if you look at the data, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, that's the prevalence rate. It's a global phenomenon. In first world countries, it's very high, almost half of their population.)
What is also "alarming', is the increase in hypertensive cases of about 5 percent among adolescents ages 12-18 years old, from just 1 percent in 2013.
"Nag-bloat, nag-balloon, dito mo makikita na ang mga kabataan also affected na ng factors ng pag-increase ng hypertension... 'wag pabayaan ang mga anak nila na magkaroon ng bad lifestyle.. naging alarming na," says Sison.
(The figure has ballooned... this is how you see that even among the youth these factors have increased hypertension incidence... Don't let your kids have a bad lifestyle... it's really alarming.)
On the brighter side, the study also revealed that there were less people who have uncontrolled hypertension, from 90 percent in 1997 down to 64 percent in 2021.
But 13 percent of those surveyed are considered "non-compliant" with their medications, and some of the possible reasons include having side effects, financial challenges, or a shift to supplements.
Sison noted heavy advertising of supplements, prompting hypertensive people to stop taking their prescription meds and instead use cheaper alternatives.
The PHA officer advised the public to have themselves checked even if they feel fine. There are clinics, health centers and drug stores that offer free blood pressure and sugar readings.
Families with hypertensive loved ones may also use gadgets at home to monitor their blood pressure.