STUDENTS’ AWARENESS AND ATTITUDE TOWARDS RISK FACTORS FOR HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
The prevalence rate of high blood pressure (HBP) among youths in Nigeria and the world at large is said to be on the increase. This is attributed to lack of knowledge of several modifiable risk factors (excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, lack of exercise etc) and non-modifiable risk factors (age, hereditary, race and sex). Literatures reviewed on HBP hold that no specific cause for the disease in question has been discovered. This study set out to assess the level of awareness of risk factors for high blood pressure; level of youth engagement in unhealthy lifestyles and dietary habits; level of knowledge of preventive and control measures for high blood pressure; and possible strategies for enhancing youth awareness of risk factors for high blood pressure as well as it’s preventive and control measures among students of Ahmadu Bello
University (ABU), Zaria. The ―Health Belief Model‖ was adopted for the study with its basic assumptions that people were afraid of getting serious illness and that health related behaviors reflect the level of threat perceived; that is a person’s perceived seriousness and susceptibility of an illness provokes the likelihood of preventive action. The functionalist theory was also adopted. Data were collected from three hundred and ninety-eight (398) undergraduate students in both Main and Kongo campuses of ABU. Eight in-depth interviews were conducted. Findings from the study revealed poor knowledge of most risk factors associated with high blood pressure among students; poor dietary habit with most students consuming carbohydrate foods mostly for breakfast, lunch or dinner weekly; high rate of snack foods and sugared drinks consumption on daily bases; low rate of students‘ engagement in regular physical activities. On consumption of alcohol, findings revealed that about 51% of students who consumed alcohol had parent(s) who do not consume alcohol indicating that youth alcoholic habit may not be associated with parental influence. On the other hand, parental influence on cigarette smoking proved to be likely as about 54% of students who smoke cigarette indicated having parent(s) who smoke cigarette as well. Also, about 78% of students who consume alcohol and 100% of those who smoke cigarette were males, revealing part of the reasons why the male gender is said to be more prone to high blood pressure compared to the female gender. About 52% of students who indicated ever being diagnosed of HBP were from polygamous homes. Furthermore, students‘ knowledge of preventive measures for high blood pressure was revealed to be below average. The qualitative data also revealed that no health education sessions or any form of awareness on high blood pressure with particular reference to students (youth) either during the daily health education sessions held at the university sick-bay or during the annual orientation for new students. Findings from the study showed that there is urgent need for awareness campaign on risk factors for high blood pressure in the university and possibly the wider society, and further recommends annual health seminars by respective faculties and places of worship, information on risk factor for HBP through fliers and bill boards by the University Health Service and the Guidance and Counselling.
1.1 Background to the Study
High blood pressure otherwise called hypertension is a major threat to public health. The disease has been identified as a major cause of morbidity and mortality globally. It is as a result of this global burden, that the world’s premier blood pressure society known as the International Society of Hypertension (ISH) was established in 1966 to encourage and promote the advancement of scientific research and its application to the prevention and management of heart diseases, stroke, hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases (CVD) around the world (www.ish.org ; 2013).
According to the Report of WHO (2002), hypertension is the most prevalent CVD affecting at least 600million people worldwide. The report refers to hypertension as an important contributor to cardiovascular diseases, which according to Mathers, et al (2000), were responsible for the deaths of 17million people each year, or approximately one – third of the global deaths annually. This rose to about 17.5million deaths in 2009 (WHO, 2009). It is projected to account for about 23.3 million deaths annually by the year 2030 (WHO, 2013). A review of the global burden of high blood pressure by the International Society of Hypertension (ISH) indicated that approximately 54% of stroke, 47% of ischemic heart disease.