Every time you go to the hospital, you hear the doctor say, your blood pressure today is 150/90 mmHg. It seems you have “Hypertension” and hence you want to know what this means.
Hypertension also known as “High blood pressure, High BP” is a very common condition in our nation. It is particularly responsible for a lot of diseases such as stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, etc which causes death, especially in our elderly people.
The sad thing in our environment is that most persons don’t know they are hypertensive until these problems.
We can say that Hypertension is the greatest killer of old persons in Nigeria.
What is Hypertension?
This means raised blood pressure. The normal pressure of blood in the body is 120/80 mmHg to 129/89 mmHg. A BP that is higher than 140/90 mmHg is qualified as Hypertension. It is considered severe if the pressure is above 180/120.
We have two types of Hypertension
- Essential Hypertension: when it is not caused by any other condition.
- Secondary Hypertension: when it is caused by other conditions e.g: diabetes.
What is the Cause of Hypertension?
In the majority of the cases, the particular cause of High blood pressure cannot be explained. However, the following conditions have been known to cause hypertension.
- Diabetes: DM is a known cause of high blood pressure. The excess sugar deposits as fat in the blood vessels through a process known as atherosclerosis. This is why it is common to see most people with diabetes also having high blood pressure.
- Kidney disease: various conditions of the kidney lead to high blood pressure.
- Pregnancy: you are surprised right? Yes, pregnancy can cause hypertension, just the same way it can cause diabetes. This is known as Pre-eclampsia and when this happens, it is very dangerous. It can lead to the death of a woman. You should reach the hospital immediately. Read more about this here.
- Drugs: Some drugs can cause high blood pressure, such as steroids, some oral contraceptives, etc.
Risk Factors (Things that can make you have Hypertension)
- Race/Ethnicity: High blood pressure is usually more common in blacks & African Americans than whites.
- Family/Genetics: it simple as saying it runs in the blood. What this means is that if any member of your family has hypertension, there is a high chance that you could also develop high blood pressure sometime in the future. Don’t say it is not my portion, it is nobody’s portion in the first place, instead, start doing what you can to prevent that from happening. See how here.
- Lifestyle: some choices we make in our taste & diet also helps in causing high blood pressure. Examples are High salt intake, Alcohol excess.
- Obesity: it has been known that obese people tend to have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure sometime in their life. See more about Obesity here.
- Lack of exercise: exercise is a very important exercise for the cardiovascular system & for the body as a whole. Regular exercise can help reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure.
Symptoms (How to know) of Hypertension.
High blood pressure usually presents in a lot of ways.
The sad thing in our environment is that many persons do not know that they are hypertensive until when it has caused other problems like stroke, or heart failure. So how do we suspect that a person has high blood pressure?
The most common sign to suspect high blood pressure is;
- Headache: surprised right? Yes, because it is very common. Headaches, especially recurrent headaches are usually the only sign that most persons with hypertension would have.
In other persons, there would not even be any symptoms. This is why Hypertension is usually known as the silent killer. You would not even know it is there. Hence the need for regular checkups.
This is why, the only time that most persons get to know that they have high blood pressure is when they go to the hospital for another problem, that has been caused by hypertension that has been there for a long time, unnoticed.
What Hypertension Can Cause
Like we said before, high blood pressure can cause damage to a lot of organs in your body leading to;
- Subarachnoid haemorrhage: when there is bleeding in your brain due to ruptured vessels
- Blindness: when it affects the vessel carrying blood to the eye.
- Heart attack: known as Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
- Heart Failure: due to long-standing High BP
- Renal Failure
- Convulsions: in pregnant women, leading to eclampsia.
- Loss of Pregnancy: due to eclampsia (need to abort) or miscarriages.
- Hypertensive encephalopathy: when high blood pressure has caused problems with your speech (talking), vision (seeing).
You can see it this high blood pressure is not good at all?
So what do we do about it?
Treatment/Management of Hypertension
Let us say first, that High blood pressure has no permanent cure. In other words, there is nothing that you would take, and your high blood pressure would just disappear!
So, you should not be deceived by hawkers who sell herbal medications and would try to convince you that it would make your high blood pressure disappear permanently.
Also, as the treatment of high blood pressure involves taking drugs for life, so it is important that you confirm the high blood pressure at least 3 different times, on different days before you start taking these drugs.
If you have high blood pressure, the first thing to do is to see a doctor. Do not make the mistake of using another person’s prescription/drugs for hypertension because you think it is cheaper or to avoid seeing a doctor (due to consultation fees).
This is because no two persons are the same (some persons have other conditions like Asthma or Diabetes together with high blood pressure). The cause of your high blood pressure might not be the cause of the other person’s own, and hence, taking another person’s prescription can actually kill you instead.
Trust me, I have seen this happen.
Different classes are used in the management of Hypertension (usually in combination) depending on the associated condition of the person. Such drugs include Diuretics, Beta-blockers, etc.
See your doctor for the drug that would be most appropriate to help you manage your high blood pressure.
Note: Never stop taking your antihypertensive drugs without talking to your doctor first, no matter the reason.
These drugs help prevent the development of these complications of Hypertension. If you continue to take your medications as told by your doctor, you are going to live a long & normal life, in the absence of other factors.
How to Prevent/reduce chances of Hypertension.
The following lifestyle adjustment will help not only lower BP but also reduce risk:
- Regular Checkups: Most cases of High blood pressure are discovered by chance, hence, if you can, check your Blood pressure at least once every month. You can go to government health centers near you.
- Correcting obesity: it is important to lose that weight. It does not do you any good.
- Reducing alcohol intake.
- Restricting salt intake.
- Take regular physical exercise.
- Increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables.
It is not an easy task. We know taking drugs every day is not easy, but it is important as we want you to live longer for us.
Remember: Hypertension is a silent killer. Do regular checkups today