Rising Trend of Strokes Among Young People in Ghana

In Ghana, there is a concerning rise in the number of young people, specifically those aged 40 and below, experiencing strokes. Dr. Efua Commeh, the Programme Manager of Non-Communicable Diseases at the Ghana Health Service, highlights the alarming trend, attributing it to untreated or unmanaged hypertension among the youth.

Traditionally, strokes were more commonly associated with older individuals, particularly those between the ages of 80 and 90. However, cases are now being diagnosed in individuals as young as 35 and 40 due to uncontrolled hypertension. Dr. Commeh emphasizes that these strokes are occurring in the active working population, which adds to the situation’s urgency.

Dr. Commeh explains that many of these young stroke patients are brought to the hospital without any prior symptoms, only to discover they have hypertension. This untreated hypertension can lead to severe complications such as strokes, heart attacks, and kidney diseases.

Annually, approximately 600,000 cases of hypertension are recorded in Ghana. While older individuals were previously the majority of patients, a growing number of younger individuals, even in their 20s, are diagnosed with hypertension.

Dr. Commeh spoke about the causes of stroke among the youth, highlighting stress as a significant factor. The pressures from school, work, and home contribute to increased stress levels, compounded by late nights and inadequate diets. Fast food consumption has become common due to the lack of suitable food options late at night, further contributing to poor health and hypertension.

In addition to stress, unhealthy habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and poor dietary choices contribute to hypertension.

Hypertension is often referred to as a silent killer because it typically does not present noticeable symptoms until it reaches a critical stage.

Dr. Commeh’s insights come ahead of World Hypertension Day, observed on May 17. This year’s theme is “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer,” emphasizing the importance of monitoring and managing blood pressure to prevent related complications.

The rising number of strokes among young people in Ghana is a concerning trend that highlights the need for increased awareness, early detection, and effective management of hypertension. By addressing risk factors such as stress, and unhealthy habits, and promoting healthier lifestyles, it is possible to reduce the burden of hypertension and prevent associated health complications.

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