Hypertension, often referred to as the “silent killer”, is emerging as a major health concern in Mexico. A staggering 30% of Mexicans suffer from arterial hypertension, but alarmingly, half of them are unaware of their condition, according to Dr. Martín Rosas Peralta from the UNAM School of Medicine. This lack of awareness is attributed to hypertension's initially asymptomatic nature.
The real danger isn't just the health risk. It's also the financial implications for the nation. With more than three percent of these cases inadequately controlled, it creates substantial financial pressure on the healthcare system. The economically active population bears the brunt, with 54% of hypertensive patients being under the age of 54, turning hypertension into a “catastrophic cost disease”.
The Cost of Non-intervention
Putting it into perspective, the financial repercussions are vast. For a well-managed case, the annual cost ranges between 8,000 to 18,000 pesos. However, should complications arise, treatment costs can skyrocket up to 400,000 pesos, considering potential requirements like heart attack treatments, intensive care, and use of a hemodynamic room.
Furthermore, hypertension rarely travels alone. It's often accompanied by metabolic diseases like dyslipidemia and obesity. Thus, the cardiovascular risk becomes more comprehensive, pushing the age of morbimortality – deaths below the average life expectancy—to less than 60 years. This is particularly concerning considering the life expectancy in Mexico stands at 70 years.
The Grupo de Expertos en Hipertensión Arterial en México (GREHTA), a civil association co-founded by Rosas Peralta, emphasizes that hypertension is just one cog in the wheel. Diseases like diabetes, obesity, and dyslipidemias are all interconnected, leading to further complications such as cerebral vascular events, infractions, kidney damage, and even blindness.
Recognizing this interconnectivity, GREHTA launched the National Registry of Arterial Hypertension (RIHTA) in 2021, aiming to document risk factors and track their evolution over time. While the registry's current data, taken from over five thousand patients, isn't yet nationally representative, it has already unveiled concerning trends. These include unusually high lipid alterations, which, coupled with hypertension, can exacerbate health issues.
Rethinking Chronic Diseases
Despite the steady prevalence of arterial hypertension (30%) since the year 2000, there has been a significant rise in the sheer number of affected individuals due to population growth. More importantly, the average age of these patients is now less than 54 years. This defies the misconception that “chronic diseases are for old people” and emphasizes that these conditions are plaguing younger adults.
Learning from COVID-19
Interestingly, the recent COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the disparity in attention given to various diseases. While the rapid progression and fatalities of COVID-19 garnered immediate global attention, other more lethal diseases, like hypertension, diabetes, and dyslipidemia, continue to be overlooked. As Rosas Peralta starkly states, hypertension alone claims 10.6 million lives globally.
Treatment and Innovation
One of the silver linings is the medical community's efforts towards innovative treatment methods. A notable development is the use of combined drugs, offering multiple treatments in a single pill. This not only streamlines the medication process but also improves patient adherence, thus better controlling cardiovascular risks.
In conclusion, as the world, and Mexico in particular, navigates the complexities of modern health challenges, the message is clear. A proactive, comprehensive, and informed approach to conditions like hypertension is not only a health imperative but also an economic one.