High blood pressure or Hypertension is a long-term medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is higher than normal. Known as a silent killer because those affected can often go for a long period without experiencing any symptoms until various organs of the body have become damaged leading to physical symptoms and deterioration of health. Untreated hypertension can lead to serious health outcomes including strokes and heart attacks.Hypertension is a major health concern in Africa, and affects up to one third of the population; many of whom are unaware that they are affected until other serious life-threatening signs manifest. Early detection is crucial for survival and routine blood pressure monitoring saves lives.
What is High Blood Pressure?Blood pressure is measured and recorded with 2 numbers, both measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
1. The systolic pressure (top number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.
2. The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.As a general guide:
• high blood pressure is considered to be 140/90mmHg or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher if you’re over the age of 80)
• ideal blood pressure is usually considered to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHgBlood pressure readings between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg could mean you’re at risk of developing high blood pressure if you do not take steps to keep your blood pressure under control including improving your diet and getting adequate exercise.
What do we know causes high blood pressure?
There are several known risk factors for hypertension including:
• being overweight
• eating too much salt and not eat enough fruit and vegetables
• not doing enough exercise
• drinking too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
• not getting much sleep or have disturbed sleep
• are over 65
• having a close relative with high blood pressure
• being of black African or black Caribbean descent
• alcohol abuseSome health conditions may cause high blood pressure:
• Kidney disease
• Long term kidney infections
• Obstructive sleep apnoea
• Side effects of some medications including some bought over the counter for coughs & colds
• Hormonal and Thyroid problemsWhat we know are symptoms of high blood pressure?Generally, most people won’t experience any warning symptoms, however, those with advanced stage hypertension may experience:
• Headaches, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, flushing, dizziness, chest pain, blurred changes, blood in the urineIt is crucial for everyone over the age of 30 years have regular monthly, bi-annual or annual blood pressure checks depending on age.
How & where can I get my blood pressure measured or tested?
Most healthcare facilities will take a blood pressure reading at every appointment, because the best way to know whether you have high blood pressure is by doing a check. Your blood pressure reading is usually taken using a blood pressure monitor with an upper arm or wrist pressure cuff for accuracy. Ensure you are cuffed with a snugly fitted machine cuff, as loosely-fitted cuffs may give inaccurate readings.You can get your blood pressure checked at:
• some pharmacies
• some workplaces
• at home (invest in one for your family as they are relatively inexpensive)
Treatment of High Blood Pressure
Doctors can help you keep your blood pressure to a safe level using:
• Lifestyle changes like
*reducing salt intake and have a generally healthy diet
*cutting back on alcohol consumption
*lose excess weight if you are overweight
*taking regular exercise
*cut down on caffeine intake
*In addition to the lifestyle changes, your doctor will prescribe medicines which will help to keep your blood pressure under control. *What works best is different for each person. Do not take any medication which a licensed doctor did not specifically prescribe for your condition. Talk to your doctor to help you decide about treatment.Click https://wazima.africa.com/find-doctor to speak to a doctor right now. to speak to a licensed doctor right now.
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