Hypertension is a silent killer disease, resulting from 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. Hypertension and other cardiac problems should be medically addressed earlier and more aggressively especially in women.
World Health Organization has identified hypertension or high blood pressure, as the leading cause of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. More than three billion people of the adult population had hypertension worldwide. As at 2019, about one quarter of these hypertensive populations die annually.
The early medical engagement for detection of hypertension is crucial to its prompt clinical evaluation, management and monitoring. The essence of this document is to support the creation of sufficient public awareness.
REMEMBER WHAT IS HYPERTENSION?
Hypertension is a chronic medical condition associated with persistent elevation of blood pressure in the arteries. The elevation is above thresholds considered safe for cardiovascular function and organ integrity. This problem makes the heart to work harder during the routine circulation of blood through the blood vessels. Hypertension is 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. The values are affected by measurement techniques, time of day, emotion, pain, discomfort, hydration, temperature, exercise, drugs and posture.
WHAT FOLLOWS HYPERTENSION
Hypertension is a major contributing factor for stroke and myocardial infarction (heart attacks). It promotes heart failure, aneurysms (enlargement) of the arteries, peripheral (outside) arterial disease and chronic kidney disease. Diffuse atherosclerosis (fatty plaques that obstruct blood flow inside arteries) and pulmonary embolism (sudden blockage by blood clot) result from hypertension. Cognitive (perception) impairment and dementia (behaviour disorder caused by brain disease) are products of hypertension. Also, it 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. Usually, its identification is through screening or when seeking healthcare for unrelated health problem(s). However, a proportion of people with hypertension or high blood pressure present combination of symptoms. There may be severe headaches (particularly at the back of the head, and in the morning with nausea or vomiting) and lightheadedness (dizzy). Vertigo (sensation of imbalance), tinnitus (buzzing or hissing in the ears) and altered vision are reported. Others are syncope (fainting episodes), altered level of consciousness (confusion or drowsiness) and chest pain. Hypertension can also present edema (swelling, especially on the legs) and lack of energy even at rest. Observed are breathing difficulty, unexplained irritability and blood in the urine. Facial paralysis (causing muscles weakness on one side of the face, inability to close eye; and loss of hearing and taste sensations) is included.
CHECK THESE HYPERTENSION TRIGGERS
For effective management and control of hypertension people should avoid over weight. Frequent stress or anxiety and excessive alcohol consumption should be avoided. 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. This is especially when aging (50 years and above and/or faced with family history of hypertension). People should take therapeutic diet rich in nuts, whole grains, fish, poultry, fruits and vegetables at least five portions per day. Carefully planned regular aerobic physical activity such as brisk walking (at least 30 minutes per day, most days of the week) is crucial. 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). Reduce alcohol intake to less than (150centilitres/day in men and100centilitres/day in women).
Essentially reduce psychological stress through such as biofeedback, relaxation or meditation (https://fitnessgoat.com/wellness/meditation-101). At 18 years and above, have regular and proper medical screening/investigation, diagnosis, counseling, treatment, control and monitoring hypertension. Do not ignore the signs and symptoms of hypertension. Use 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. Drug treatment is often relevant in people who experiences ineffective or insufficient lifestyle and dietary modifications. Generally, partner in your hypertension management today and enjoy quality life tomorrow.