Hypertension is said to be a ‘silent killer’, most times you have no symptoms until complications begin to show.
Hypertension is another name for high blood pressure and according to a systemic study on hypertension, nearly 47 per cent of Nigeria’s population have it or are at risk of developing it, including adults and children.
Contrary to the belief that high blood pressure or hypertension is only prevalent within older people, 50 years and above, younger people, even teenagers are now known to have high blood pressure.
Blood pressure is the measurement of blood as it pumps through the arteries. Your blood pressure rises and falls through the day as you carry out your daily activities but there is a stable number or range that normal blood pressure should have, anything exceeding that is high blood pressure and it is a risk factor for so many other diseases.
The fact that a lot of people have hypertension and are not aware remains a growing concern so much that a day had to be set aside as the world hypertension day.
Since 2006, every 17th of May has been dedicated to educating people about risk factors and preventive measures of hypertension in order to reduce the rate of sudden deaths and complications that emerge as a result of hypertension.
When last did you check your blood pressure?
There’s no specified number of times that an individual should check but it’s advisable to check at least once in a month if you are not hypertensive but if you already have hypertension, especially in the early stages, check it twice a day or at least once a day until you get it under control then, you can do as your doctor advises. If you are also at risk of developing high blood pressure or within the prehypertensive reading, check your blood pressure every week and monitor it closely before it becomes full hypertension.
How to understand blood pressure reading
Let’s understand the blood pressure readings for a bit because, most times when we check our blood pressure, we just want to hear “it’s high” or “its normal” or low as the case may be without bothering what the exact numbers are.
The blood pressure is measured with an apparatus called a sphygmomanometer or blood pressure monitor, which shows two numbers up and down. The number above is called systolic and the one down is diastolic. Normal pressure should read 120/80, prehypertensive reading will be between 130-139/80-89 but once it begins to read 140/90 then you are in the hypertensive zone and it must be managed so that it doesn’t get to the hypertensive crisis stage that reads up to 180/120 mm Hg.
Causes of high blood pressure
Some people are naturally predisposed to developing high blood pressure either because of the genes inherited from a parent (s) that has hypertension or a rogue mutated gene in an individual. There are however other risk factors and cause hypertension.
1. Too many salty foods
2. Smoking, any kind of smoking
3. Too much alcohol consumption
4. Old age
5. Lack of physical activity
6. Being overweight and obese
7. Unmanaged stress
8. High cholesterol level
9. Kidney disease etc.
Symptoms of high blood pressure
The symptoms can be so vague that you may not notice. You could be walking around without knowing your blood pressure is off the chart. Some likely hypertension symptoms include;
3. Changes in your vision
4. Nausea and vomiting
5. Nose bleeds
7. Blood in urine
When these symptoms show up it means you need immediate medical attention, which is why it is advisable to regularly check your blood pressure in order to manage it properly before it becomes high.
Treatment for hypertension
It’s always better to prevent a disease rather than find the cure. Because there are different stages of hypertension based on the reading, the treatment for hypertension is different. The doctors will observe the reading multiple times before concluding that an individual is hypertensive. The reading must be taken at different times during the day, different days and under other circumstances; if it constantly reads high then it’s safe to say the individual is hypertensive.
The cause of hypertension will also determine possible treatment options, while some may just require lifestyle changes, some other stages may require medication and lifestyle changes. High blood pressure may also be a result of an underlying illness, once the illness is traced and treated hypertension will phase out.
Never attempt to self-medicate especially with these types of medications and strictly follow the prescription because exceeding the required dosage can drop your blood pressure so much that it will become toxic and deadly as well.
The theme for this year’s world hypertension day is “measure your blood pressure accurately, control it and live longer”. As always, early detection offers up to an 80 per cent chance of saving lives, so, while you make an effort to check and monitor your blood pressure regularly, some other people may not be privy to this information because of their rural location, poverty, and general lack of awareness. Encourage people as much as possible to always check. Hypertension on its own is deadly, having it exposes you to other complications like stroke, heart disease, dementia, aneurysm, trouble with memory, metabolic syndrome, etc.