There is a whole lot that people don’t know about the silent killer,hypertension.
Have you ever witnessed a hale, hearty and vibrant person collapsed suddenly and die? People begin to wonder what could have gone wrong, he was so full of life just few minutes ago – different assumptions and hearsay begin to come from here and there.

Ever heard of hypertension?

Hypertension is quite common and it’s one of the major public health challenges globally. Hypertension is simply put as a persistently abnormally high blood pressure. Hypertension or high blood pressure occurs when your blood pressure increases to a level that is unhealthy.

An individual can have high blood pressure for years without being symptomatic, that is why it can be referred to as a silent killer disease. Fortunately, high blood pressure can be detected easily through screening or when seeking heath care for problems that are unrelated. And once this is detected it can be controlled
There are four stages of high blood pressure or hypertension
• Stage 1 (prehypertension) is 120/80 to 139/89 mmHg
• Stage 2 (Mild hypertension) is 140/90 t0 159/99 mmHg
• Stage 3 (moderate hypertension) 160/100 to 179 /109 mmHg
• Stage 4 (Severe hypertension) is 180/110 or higher

The prehypertension stage is a warning stage which implies that if lifestyle modifications/actions are not put in place, it’s likely an individual might end up with high blood pressure.
When high blood pressure is left untreated/uncontrolled it can lead to serious health problems like heart failure, stroke, and blindness.

Causes/Risk factors
There is this strong societal belief that when you are told you have a high blood pressure, it has to do with worrying. Truly, there is a causal relationship between worrying and high blood pressure but it is not the only cause.

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Often times, it’s impossible to nail the exact cause of high blood pressure. However the causes of hypertension are multifactorial and these includes;
• Family history of high blood pressure
• Age – incidence of high blood pressure increases in men after 35 years and in women after 45 years.
• Gender – men are more likely to develop high blood pressure than women
• Smoking
• Race – hypertension is more common among Yoruba and Igbo compared to the Fulani.
• Environment- unhealthy lifestyle choices like poor physical activity and poor diet can affect our body causing weight problems which can be a risk factor for hypertension.

Sadly, the cause of high blood pressure in 90-95% cases is unknown and this is referred to as primary or essential hypertension.
In Secondary hypertension the cause is identifiable. One of the major causes is the narrowing of the renal arteries (the blood vessels that supply oxygenated blood to the kidney), problems with thyroids, congenital heart defects, diabetes, and pregnancy.

Signs and symptoms
As mentioned above, hypertension can be asymptomatic which makes it very dangerous. A lot of people may not know they are hypertensive, in fact; almost one- third of people who have high blood pressure are unaware. The only way to detect a high blood pressure is through regular checkups.
When a blood pressure is extremely high, there are symptoms to look out for (but not exclusive to high blood pressure) and they are;
• Severe headache
• Confusion/fatigue
• Vision problems
• Chest pains
• Difficulty breathing
• Blood in urine
• Pounding chest , neck , or ears

Diagnosis
To take blood pressure readings is done by using the blood pressure machine. A blood pressure reading, given in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) consists of two numbers. The upper number called the systolic pressure measures the pressure in the arteries when the heartbeat. The second number called the diastolic pressure measures the pressure in the arteries between beats.
Blood pressure reading is normal if it’s below 120/80mmHg.

Management
Lifestyle modifications can go a long way in the control and management of high blood pressure, these may include;
• Regular exercise
• Maintaining a healthy weight or losing weight if overweight or obese
• Managing stress like getting adequate sleep, meditation, deep breathing, massage, yoga, muscle relaxation etc.
• Limit/avoid alcohol and smoking
• Eating heart friendly diet like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish etc.
• Reduce salt intake

Medications
Specific medications are used to treat hypertension. Antihypertensive medications usually have minor side effects.
These medications include diuretics, Beta blockers, alpha blockers, calcium channel blockers, central agonists, vasodilators, angiotensin- converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors etc.
Blood pressure medications should be taken exactly as directed. Do not skip doses because of side effects or by forgetfulness. It is advisable to consult your physician if there’s any complaint.

Prevention
High blood pressure can be prevented by taking the following steps
• Ensure you consume healthy food at all times
• Cut sugar consumption
• Set weight loss goals
• Reduce and mange mental stress
• Monitor your blood pressure regularly, at least twice a month.
Achieving an overall quality of health solely depends on you; ensure you take the necessary measures to prevent yourself from the silent killer disease.

About Dr Habeeb Ali Tunde

Dr. Habeeb Ali Tunde provides the most effective treatments to patients by integrating both conventional and alternative medicine that address all aspects of pain and wellness.

Read more

Follow Dr Habeeb Tunde Ali

Facebook – Dr. Habeeb Ali

Twitter – Dr. Habeeb Ali

YouTube: Dr Habeeb Ali

Website: Dr. Habeeb Tunde Ali

Mentioned on Tribune Online News – Dr. Habeeb Tunde Ali