‘Uncontrolled blood pressure damages brain’

FOLLOWING increasing cases of hypertension in Nigerians, an expert, Professor Adesola Ogunniyi, has urged that Nigerians should regularly take their blood pressure medicine, saying uncontrolled hypertension can predispose them to brain diseases, including dementia.

Ogunniyi, a consultant neurologist at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, spoke at the 3rd regional conference of Alzheimer’s Diseases International African in Ibadan.

The Professor of Medicine, who stated that Nigerians, especially elderly people should ensure they control their blood pressure, declared that hypertension might expose individuals to various brain diseases and dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common cause of dementia, causes progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory, thinking skills and coordination, and an inexorable decline in the ability to perform daily tasks. The exact cause of the condition is not known and there is no cure, but some therapies may help ease symptoms.

Ogunniyi said that studies in Nigeria that look at people above 65 years and above found that the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease is increasing, adding that the brain condition should not be overlooked as people get older.

The expert declared that studies had shown that increasing age was a major reason people develop the irreversible, progressive brain disease, adding that more women also get affected than men.

Ogunniyi, who remarked that unhealthy diet and lack of exercise can predispose to it, stated that studies have shown that obesity as people get older increases a person’s chance of coming down with dementia.

The neurologist, however, asked elderly people to be physically active and ensure they engage in activities that keep stimulating their brain.

He, however, cautioned Nigerians against self medication as they get older, saying that certain drugs as part of their side effects lower brain function.

President Alzheimer’s Disease Association Nigeria, Mr Valentine Uche Agu, stated that diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease in developed countries was easier than in Africa.

Agu, who stated that myths on Alzheimer’s disease in Africa had affected its diagnosis and treatment, declared that the association was already working on creating awareness on the disease, especially at the grassroots  so that people can seek help.

He also solicited for increased funding for research into drug development and related therapies for Alzheimer’s disease in Africa, adding that certain treatment modalities in Africa can be explored for development of dementia therapy.

Earlier, Executive Director, Alzheimer’s Disease International, Marc Wortmann declared that the conference was to provide opportunities to work together to advocate for better awareness and understanding and improved access to healthcare and support for people living with the condition as well as their care-providers.