Despite the increase in the prevalence of hypertension among Filipino adults 20 years old and above from years 2013 to 2015, its prevalence significantly declined in 2018-2019.
This is based on the study, “Prevalence and Factors Associated with Hypertension among Filipino Adults in Different Survey Periods,” from data from the 2013 National Nutrition Survey, 2015 Updating of the Nutritional Status of Filipino Children and Other Population Groups, and the 2018–2019 Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS) by the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI).
The research is important in understanding the downward trend and in identifying the factors associated with hypertension that can help further reduce its prevalence by 33 percent between 2010 and 2030, which is one of the global targets for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
The percentage of controlled hypertension, that is, having a blood pressure of less than 140 mmHg (systolic) and less than 90 mmHg (diastolic) and taking anti-hypertensive medication among persons with hypertension, improved from 20.7 percent in 2015 to 29.4 percent in 2018-2019.
Alongside the improvement in controlled hypertension, data shows that the use of anti-hypertensive medications also increased in 2018–2019.
The reduction and control of high blood pressure to target levels in individuals with hypertension is important to minimize the risk of major adverse cardiac and cerebrovascular events, or all-cause mortality.
Adults, aged 60 years old and above, had the highest percentage of controlled hypertension in 2013, 2015, and 2018–2019, and it was observed that the rate increased with age.
It was also observed that controlled hypertension is more common among females. This can be explained by their higher level of attention to healthcare and adherence to prescribed medications.
Further, female hearts have the ability to adapt to blood pressure due to thicker blood vessel walls that can withstand sudden increases in blood pressure.
The DOST-FNRI study finds that adults with higher educational attainment had higher rate of controlled hypertension than those with lower educational status.
A similar finding was reported in a related 2014 research which finds that adults with higher educational status tend to have increased awareness, better income, and better access to anti-hypertensive medications compared to those with lower educational attainment.
Other findings show that hypertension is more common among males and among adults with higher educational attainment and wealth status.
The socio-demographic and economic factors that are significantly associated with hypertension are older age and higher wealth status, whereas NCD risk factors that have positive associations with hypertension are obesity, high waist circumference and high waist-hip ratio, alcohol drinking and binge drinking.
The prevalence of hypertension was also highest among pensioners (a person who receives or lives on a pension) in 2013 and 2015 surveys, whereas in 2018–2019, the prevalence was highest among adults with no occupation.
Hypertension is known to be a silent killer because most people show no early symptoms or its signs and symptoms are misunderstood.
Raised blood pressure develops slowly over time and can be related to many causes. It is highly associated with other NCDs due to constricted blood flow, which can damage the arteries, leading to heart diseases.
Persistent elevation of blood pressure results in an increased risk for heart disease, heart failure and stroke, and is considered a major cause of premature death worldwide.
Chona F. Patalen, one of the researchers, said that their research team recommends that programs and policies should be intensified focusing on mandatory and regular BP monitoring, adherence to healthy lifestyle advice, particularly on decreasing sedentary activities and engaging in aerobic physical activities, patient-centered treatment plan, and systematic follow-up.