Ghana is witnessing a surge in stroke cases among young people aged 40 and below, the acting Programme Manager of the Non-Communicable Diseases of the Ghana Health Service, Dr Efua Commeh, has revealed. The cases are being triggered by uncontrolled hypertension, which has become increasingly common in the country’s younger population. While stroke cases were previously recorded mainly in people between 80 and 90 years old, hospitals in Ghana are now seeing cases in people as young as 35 and 40. Dr. Commeh attributed the trend to the high levels of stress experienced by young people, in addition to unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, cigarette smoking, and alcohol consumption.
Hypertension, Dr. Commeh noted, is a severe health problem in Ghana. The hospitals keep seeing more young people, sometimes in their 20s, reporting to health facilities with hypertension, but the numbers are not as significant as the older age groups. The country records about 600,000 cases of hospital visits every year by people with hypertension, she said. Stress, Dr. Commeh said, was chiefly responsible for the recent stroke cases among young people in Ghana, as most young people in the country were stressed out.
Dr. Commeh advised young people to have enough rest, pay attention to their diet, and reduce fried foods, fats, and oils, as well as salts and sugars, to avoid getting hypertension. She recommended that they take small walks in and around their offices after sitting behind their desks for two hours, climb office stairs once or twice a day, and eat more fruits and vegetables. She urged corporate organizations to undertake proper medical screening for their staff at least once a year, including tests for fats, blood sugar, urine function, and blood pressure. Routine screening will help identify any problems early on, making it easier to manage them.
Most people in Ghana, including young people, hardly check their blood pressure, according to Dr. Commeh. For most people, the first time their blood pressure is checked is after they have collapsed and have been rushed to the hospital. Dr. Commeh advised the public to walk to a pharmacy or any clinic to regularly have their blood pressure checked, at least once a month, and to get conditions controlled if they are diagnosed with any, so they can live healthier and longer. She also recommended that young people already diagnosed with diabetes and hypertension take their medication, explaining that hypertension and diabetes could result in problems, including erectile dysfunction and reproductive problems when left uncontrolled.
The World Hypertension Day will be observed on May 17, with the theme: “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer.” Dr. Commeh’s revelation highlights the need for increased awareness of hypertension and other non-communicable diseases in Ghana, especially among the younger population. It also underscores the importance of adopting healthy lifestyle practices, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and regular medical check-ups, in the prevention and management of hypertension and other health conditions.