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Hypertension: The Silent Killer

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By Mfonobong Etokakakpan

Jul 27, 2020

Hypertension is also known as high blood pressure (HBP). It is a long-term medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently high. High blood pressure typically does not show any symptoms. It is known as the silent killer because it can kill a human being without showing any prior symptoms. Hypertension is the leading cause of heart failure, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

There are two types of blood pressure measurement i.e. the systolic and diastolic pressures, which are the maximum and minimum pressures, respectively. Hypertension is only diagnosed if, when measured on two different days, the systolic blood pressure readings on both days is ?140 mmHg and/or the diastolic blood pressure readings on both days is ?90 mmHg (WHO 2019). 

Common Symptoms of High Blood Pressure or Hypertension

Hypertension is commonly called "the silent killer". Most people with hypertension are usually unaware of the problem because it may show no warning signs or symptoms. For this reason, people must measure their blood pressure regularly. 

The common symptoms of high blood pressure when they finally occur are early morning headaches (particularly at the back of the head), nose bleeds, irregular heart rhythms, vision changes etc. in very severe cases, symptoms may include: vomiting, muscles tremors, fatigue, chest pains anxiety etc.   

It is important to check blood pressure regularly because that is the only way to detect the disease.

Risk Factors Associated with Hypertension      

  1. Unhealthy diet
  2. Physical inactivity
  3. Excess consumption of tobacco and alcohol
  4. Overweight or obese.
  5. Family history of hypertension
  6. Existing medical conditions like diabetes, kidney disease etc.

Health Complications Caused By Uncontrolled Hypertension

Hypertension can cause damage to some of the major organs in the body like the brain, kidney, heart, and eyes. 

  1. Chest pain also called Angina.
  2. Heart attack, which occurs when the blood supply to the heart is blocked and heart muscle cells die from lack of oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.
  3. Heart failure, which occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to other vital body organs.
  4. An irregular heartbeat can lead to sudden death.
  5. Hypertension can also burst or block arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain, causing a stroke.
  6. Also, hypertension can cause kidney damage, leading to kidney failure.

Source (WHO 2019) 

Prevention of High Blood Pressure

  1. Checking blood pressure regularly
  2. Eat less salt (Doctors recommend that a non-hypertensive patient should consume 5-7g of salt per day while a hypertensive patient should consume 1-3g of salt per day).
  3. Drinking lots of water 
  4. Eat more fruits and vegetables
  5. Engage in lots of physical activity (i.e. exercise regularly)
  6. Quit smoking and drinking
  7. Take time to relax
  8. Limiting the intake of foods high in saturated fats
  9. Eliminating/reducing trans fats in the diet

Click here to watch our Instagram live session with a medical practitioner, Dr John Bishop discussing hypertension and why you may be at risk.

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