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‘Silent killer’ ails a third of Oman’s population

17 May 2022

The Ministry of Health has revealed that 33 per cent of the population older than 18 years in Oman suffers from high blood pressure. It made the statement on World Hypertension Day observed on May 17 to raise awareness on the ‘silent killer’.

Speaking to Muscat Daily, Dr Suleiman Zahir al Shuraiqi, senior specialist at National Diabetes and Endocrine Centre, said, “High blood pressure is a silent killer; its symptoms may not be evident for many years. In a majority of cases, it is diagnosed by chance through periodic examinations, or when the patient visits a hospital due to an emergency caused by complications of the condition.”

Dr Shuraiqi added that global economic changes are impacting people’s lifestyles, leading to tension and psychological pressures. “Adding to the mix is an increased intake of processed foods, lack of balanced diet and neglect of physical activity.”

He informed that a field study in Oman showed that one third of the adult population has high blood pressure, with most unaware of the fact.

“A person with the condition has high blood pressure even when resting and relaxing, and this leads to stress on the heart muscles. In a majority of cases (90-95 per cent), the cause is unknown, while in others lifestyle and behavior are a major causative factor.”

Dr Shuraiqi noted that about 5-10 per cent of high blood pressure cases may be due to simple factors that are treatable.

He described headaches as the most common symptom of high blood pressure. Some patients suffer from dizziness, palpitation, fatigue, nosebleeds or blurred vision. “These symptoms are evident in very high blood pressure only. Therefore, the cases that are diagnosed are few.”

The lifestyle factors that cause the condition include excess intake of salt, obesity, consumption of alcoholic beverages and the lack of regular physical activity.

The treatment of high blood pressure requires commitment of the patient to avoid complications. “A person with high blood pressure who neglects treatment is susceptible to enlargement of heart muscles, which leads to heart failure,” he cautioned.

Urging all to engage in some form of physical activity for 30 minutes daily, Dr Shuraiqi also recommended avoiding smoking, alcohol, anxiety and stress. “With this, we can give our heart a better chance and ourselves a healthier life.”

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