Hypertension is a silent killer disease, resulting from a complex interaction of genes and environmental factors. It is one of the deadly diseases which are of public health concern globally. It affects people of different races, genders and ages. Studies have suggested that hypertension and other cardiac problems should be medically addressed earlier and more aggressively in women.
The World Health Organization has identified hypertension or high blood pressure, as the leading cause of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. As of 2016, more than two billion people of the adult population had hypertension worldwide and about one quarter of this hypertensive population die annually.
The early medical engagement for detection of hypertension is crucial to its prompt clinical evaluation, management and monitoring. The essence of this article is to support the creation of sufficient public awareness that will stir patients to be more conscious of hypertension and to make early presentation that will bring about control of this malignant disease by expert caregivers in standard health facilities.
REMEMBER WHAT IS HYPERTENSION?
Hypertension, simply known as high blood pressure is a chronic medical condition associated with persistent elevation of blood pressure in the arteries above thresholds considered safe for cardiovascular function and organ integrity. This health problem makes the heart to work harder than normal during the routine circulation of blood through the blood vessels. Hypertension is commonly regarded as that blood pressure that is above the mean value of 140/90mmHg over a period of weeks. It is important to appreciate the fact that blood pressure values differ from minute to minute and are affected by measurement techniques, time of the day, emotion, pain, discomfort, hydration, temperature, exercise, drugs and posture.
CONTRIBUTIONS OF HYPERTENSION
Hypertension is a major contributing factor for stroke, myocardial infarction (heart attacks), heart failure, aneurysms (enlargement) of the arteries, peripheral (outside) arterial disease, chronic kidney disease, diffuse atherosclerosis ( fatty plaques that obstruct blood flow inside arteries), pulmonary embolism (sudden blockage by blood clot), cognitive(perception) impairment and dementia (behaviour disorder caused by brain disease). Hypertension also contributes to hypertensive nephropathy, hypertensive retinopathy and shortening of life expectancy.
MODIFIABLE HYPERTENSION RISK FACTORS
- Physical inactivity
- Sedentary lifestyle
- High blood cholesterol
- Regular high salt diet
- Consistent high alcohol intake
- High blood pressure
NON MODIFIABLE HYPERTENSION RISK FACTORS
- Genetic factors
- Family history of heart disease
SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS OF HYPERTENSION
Hypertension is scarcely accompanied by any overt symptoms and signs. Its identification is usually through screening or when seeking healthcare for an unrelated health problem(s). However, a proportion of people with hypertension or high blood pressure present a combination of more than two of, severe headaches (particularly at the back of the head, and in the morning with nausea or vomiting), lightheadedness (dizzy), vertigo (sensation of imbalance), tinnitus (buzzing or hissing in the ears) and altered vision. Other presentations are syncope (fainting episodes), altered level of consciousness (confusion or drowsiness) and chest pain. Hypertension can also present other symptoms and signs which are edema (swelling, especially on the legs), lack of energy even at rest, breathing difficulty, unexplained irritability, facial paralysis (causing muscles weakness on one side of the face, inability to close eye; and loss of hearing and taste sensations) and blood in the urine.
CHECK THESE HYPERTENSION TRIGGERS
For effective management and control of hypertension people should avoid over weight, frequent stress or anxiety and excessive alcohol consumption. Too much salt in the diet, cigarette smoking and sedentary lifestyle must be avoided.
MANAGEMENT AND CONTROL OF HYPERTENSION
In order to achieve the desired outcome in the management and control of hypertension, people should adjust their lifestyle especially when aging (50 years and above and/or faced with family history of hypertension). There is need for people take therapeutic diet which is rich in nuts, whole grains, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables at least five portions per day and engage in carefully planned regular aerobic physical activity such as brisk walking (at least 30 minutes per day, most days of the week). Irrespective of sex, people should maintain a healthy weight (Body Mass Index (BMI) of 20–25 kg/m2), reduce dietary salt (sodium) intake (less than 6gram of sodium chloride or less than 2.4 gram of sodium per day) and reduce alcohol intake to less than (150centilitres/day in men and100centilitres/day in women). It is very essential to reduce psychological stress through such as biofeedback, relaxation or meditation (https://fitnessgoat.com/wellness/meditation-101). At 18 years and above, have your blood pressure checked regularly. Do not ignore the signs and symptoms of hypertension; present yourself early to expert healthcare professionals for proper medical screening/investigation, diagnosis, counseling, treatment, control and monitoring in the earliest stages of high blood pressure. People are advised to take medications such as birth control pills, diet pills, some cold medications and migraine medications under medical supervision.
Dietary and lifestyle modifications can promote blood pressure control and minimize the risk of associated health complications, although drug treatment is often relevant in people who are experiencing ineffective or insufficient lifestyle and dietary modifications. Generally, partner in your hypertension management today and enjoy quality life tomorrow.