By Alao Abiodun
Every May 17 is World Hypertension Day. It was first inaugurated in May 2005.
It is observed annually to raise awareness about the symptoms of hypertension.
The theme for this year is “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer”, focusing on combating low awareness rates worldwide, especially in low to middle-income areas, and accurate blood pressure measurement methods.
Hypertension or high blood pressure occurs when the blood pressure increases to undesirable levels.
Blood pressure measurement
Blood pressure is measured with two numbers;
· The first is the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats, called the systolic pressure. Systolic pressure is the higher of the two numbers.
· The second measures the force of blood in your arteries while your heart is relaxed between beats. The bottom number is the lower of the two and is called the diastolic pressure.
Normal pressure is 120/80 or lower.
Your blood pressure is considered high (stage 1) if it reads 130/80. Stage 2 high blood pressure is 140/90 or higher.
If you get a blood pressure reading of 180/110 or higher more than once, seek medical treatment right away. A reading this high is considered a “hypertensive crisis.”
Readings between 120/80 and 129/89 are considered pre-hypertension.
People with pre-hypertension do not have blood pressure as low as it should be but are not yet considered to have high blood pressure.
Early detection of high blood pressure is very important.
Hypertension is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it may show no symptoms.
High blood pressure puts one at an increased risk for heart disease, heart failure, and stroke, among other things.
Long-term hypertension can cause atherosclerosis where the formation of plaque results in the narrowing of blood vessels. This can lead to heart failure, heart attacks, an aneurysm that is an abnormal bulge in the wall of an artery that can burst and may cause severe bleeding, kidney failure, stroke, etc.
Sometimes, people with essential hypertension may experience headaches, dizziness and blurred vision, but these symptoms are unlikely to occur until blood pressure reaches very high levels.
Some people report that their heartbeat seems louder than usual and feels as if it is inside the ear; this may be more prominent the higher the blood pressure is.
Risk factors for hypertension
· Modifiable risk factors include unhealthy diets (excessive salt consumption, a diet high in saturated fat and trans fats, low intake of fruits and vegetables), physical inactivity, consumption of tobacco and alcohol, and being overweight or obese.
· Non-modifiable risk factors include a family history of hypertension; age over 65 years, and co-existing diseases such as diabetes or kidney disease.
Essential hypertension treatment
· Hypertension can be managed through a combination of lifestyle changes and medication.
· Doctors may recommend a range of lifestyle adjustments that will commonly include:
· Adopting a healthy, nutritious diet, ideally vegetarian or vegan in nature
· Stress relief techniques
· Reducing alcohol and tobacco use
· Consuming less salt, cheese, bread and processed foods