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High blood pressure increases risk of heart, kidney diseases

Those with hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol worst off; findings based on over 252,000 NHG patients

Felicia Choo on 15 May 2019

The Straits Times


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People with high blood pressure can get ailments such as coronary heart and chronic kidney diseases nearly twice as fast than those who have only diabetes or high cholesterol, according to patient figures of the National Healthcare Group (NHG).


Worst off are people with high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.


Their annual progression rate of getting complications like cerebrovascular disease, such as stroke and aneurysm, is 6.3 per cent, according to the figures of those who sought treatment for these health conditions over eight years.


This is higher than the 4.6 per cent rate for those with just high blood pressure and diabetes.


Hypertension precedes the formal diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes by many years. It causes macrovascular or big vessel diseases like chronic heart disease and stroke.


The findings are based on more than 252,000 NHG patients treated for these conditions between 2010 and 2017. They are in an NHG book launched on Monday called River Of Life: NHG's Perspectives On Population Health.


NHG is one of three healthcare clusters in Singapore and has in its portfolio polyclinics, medical institutes and hospitals such as Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Khoo Teck Puat Hospital.


The other two clusters are Singapore Health Services and National University Health System.


Another significant NHG finding is that Malay and Indian women have a higher progression rate to chronic kidney and coronary heart diseases than men, while Chinese women have a higher progression rate to chronic kidney disease.


On the other hand, men from the three ethnic groups have a higher progression rate to stroke than women.


The number of stroke patients is also predicted to double from around 20,300 in 2017 to more than 41,900 in 2050.


Meanwhile, obese people are three times as likely to get diabetes in a six-year period compared with the overweight group, whose chances of getting it is nearly double that of people in the normal weight range.


Diabetes is also more likely to develop in Indians (1.5 times) and Malays (1.3 times) than the Chinese in Singapore.


Excessive amounts of body fat affect the body's control of blood sugar and reduces how sensitively organs, such as the liver and muscle, react to insulin, the hormone responsible for sugar control, said Dr Matthias Toh, a public health physician (consultant) at NHG's Population Health department.


Diabetes also affects the ability of the pancreas to produce insulin.


"Higher risk of diabetes can be explained as well by other factors like diet and genes," he added.


This was based on the analysis of about 22,000 patients who were followed from 2008 to 2014.


"NHG is moving upstream into the community, schools, workplaces and neighbourhoods to influence lifestyle behaviours early and consistently," said Dr Toh.


"We seek to maintain health and wellness in the community by working with various partners in multiple domains, including the social care sector, to promote healthy living," he added.


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.



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