HYPERTENSION – SILENT KILLER, GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH CRISES
Theme: Know your numbers
Blood pressure is created by the force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels (arteries) as it is pumped by the heart. Hypertension, also known as high or raised blood pressure, is a condition in which the blood vessels have persistently raised pressure.
Hypertension is easy to screen for BUT only about 50% of adults with hypertension are aware of their condition.
Effective lifestyle and drug treatments are available that could control hypertension in most individuals.
Hypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure equal to or above 140 mm Hg and/or diastolic blood pressure equal to or above 90mmHg
Many behavioural risk factors for the development of hypertension exist and they include:
• consumption of food containing too much salt and fat, and not eating enough fruit and vegetables
• harmful levels of alcohol use
• physical inactivity and lack of exercise
• poor stress management.
Most hypertensive people have no symptoms at all. Sometimes hypertension causes symptoms such as headache, shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, palpitations of the heart and nose bleeds.
There are electronic, mercury and aneroid devices that are used to measure blood pressure WHO recommends the use of affordable and reliable electronic devices. Blood pressure measurements need to be recorded for several days before a diagnosis of hypertension can be made. Blood pressure is recorded twice daily, ideally in the morning and evening. Two consecutive measurements are taken, at least a minute apart and with the person seated. Measurements taken on the first day are discarded and the average value of all the remaining measurements is taken to confirm a diagnosis of hypertension.
All adults should check their blood pressure and know their blood pressure levels. Digital blood pressure measurement machines enable this to be done outside clinic settings. If hypertension is detected people should seek the advice of a health worker. For some people, lifestyle changes are not sufficient for controlling blood pressure and prescription medication is needed.
If hypertension is detected early it is possible to minimize the risk of heart attack, heart failure, stroke and kidney failure.
TIPS TO PREVENT HYPERTENSION
• eat unprocessed or minimally processed foods most often.
• Choose low sodium options and do not add salt to food.
• Be physically active.
• Attain and maintain a healthy body weight.
• Avoid exceeding maximum daily and weekly recommended alcohol intake.
• Get your blood pressure checked regularly, know your numbers and compare with the standards
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