Hypertension The Silent Killer : Staying Alive.
It is both distressing and worrisome, to realise the increase in the rate of sudden death, especially in young and middle-aged people.
It is usually tragic to see, read or hear of such occurrences.
The stories are somewhat similar; ‘…she slumped, was rushed to the hospital, diagnosed with stroke, passed on a few days after’ or ‘he collapsed and died on the spot.’
Over the years, physicians, public health advocates, NGOs have campaigned and developed different programmes and strategies to sensitize people about this silent but powerful illness, yet the level of ignorance seems to be on the increase.
My grandmother is a known hypertensive diagnosed about two decades ago, her blood pressure has been well controlled and managed over this period. No history of stroke, heart failure or any other hypertensive complication. There are many people living a good, healthy and productive life with hypertension.
This goes to say that hypertension, though, has no cure, could still be well controlled.
Hypertension also known as high blood pressure is a chronic medical condition defined as a persistently elevated blood pressure of 130/80 mmHg or more https://www.aafp.org/afp/2018/0315/p372.html The normal human blood pressure is <120/80 mmHg.
It could be essential(primary) with no known cause or secondary with a known cause. About 95% of hypertensive cases is of the essential type. Risk factors include. Old age, race-black, stress, family history/genetics, obesity, excessive salt consumption, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, chronic kidney disease, thyroid disorders, pregnancy etc.
Unlike malaria or other prevalent illnesses, hypertension doesn’t usually have signs and symptoms.
It can be silent for years waiting patiently to strike. It’s been said that by the time one has symptoms due to high blood pressure, one’s blood pressure must have reached dangerously high/life-threatening levels.
These symptoms which are usually non-specific include headaches, nosebleeds, shortness of breath/difficulty in breathing. Its complications include stroke heart attack, aneurysm, eye problems which can lead to blindness, memory problems, dementia and so on.
The way forward is regular medical checkup, lifestyle modification and strict adherence to medications. It’s very important to regularly check one’s blood pressure. The good news is there are now automated sphygmomanometers(an instrument for checking blood pressure).
They are easy to use, portable, accessible, affordable, accurate and easy to maintain. It can either be battery powered or electrical. With this, you and your family members can regularly monitor your blood pressure.
If your blood pressure is persistently elevated(130/90) or more, you should visit a physician.
Lifestyle modification is another preventive/treatment modality. It’s been recommended that 90-150 mins/week of aerobic exercises(brisk walking, jogging, swimming etc) be done. Soon, I will have a sport and exercise medicine professional write on this. Another modification is the reduction in sodium /salt intake.
Most of us consume a lot of salt, maggi, soup sweeteners just so the food can taste “good”, we should watch this. Others include, healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption, stress reduction- rest appropriately, quit smoking, stop consumption of recreational drugs etc.
On a final note, please and please, if your physician places you on medication(s) to control your blood pressure, kindly adhere to it strictly. Do not stop/discontinue the medication(s) except instructed by your physician.
This is usually the case with most people. Hypertension being a chronic medical condition might require you to be on medication for long-term/life. Is it not wise to take medication(s), have a well-controlled blood pressure, live a productive long life than die suddenly as a result of uncontrolled hypertension causing friends and family agony and pain? Stay alive!
Thanks for reading.
© Dr Busayo Abiodun Nkemjika