Featured Headline Health News Nigeria Special Report

Why high blood pressure is a ‘silent killer’

One of the most dangerous aspects of hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is its potential to go unnoticed.

In fact, nearly one-third of people with high blood pressure remain unaware of their condition.

The most effective means of detecting high blood pressure is through routine check-ups.

Additionally, you can monitor your blood pressure at home.

This becomes particularly crucial if you have a family member with a history of the condition.

Number one risk factor to death globally

Hypertension is a condition that occurs when your blood pressure increases to unhealthy levels. It affects 1 billion people worldwide, or one in four adults, and is the number one risk factor for death globally.

High blood pressure remains the number one killer disease in Nigeria, accounting for about 52% of sudden deaths.

Untreated hypertension can lead to serious diseases, including stroke, heart disease, kidney failure, and eye problems.

Causes of high blood pressure

A muscle circulates blood, while the heart sends low-oxygen blood to the lungs for replenishment and then pumps oxygen-rich blood to nourish the body. This creates pressure. High blood pressure means the arteries endure too much force.

If the blood pressure is high, the walls of the arteries will constantly be under too much force.

Although essential high blood pressure has no identifiable cause, there is scientific evidence that links specific factors to the risk of developing hypertension. These include age, family history (hereditary), obesity, and being overweight, as well as a lack of physical exercise.

Symptoms of blood pressure

Symptoms of hypertension, or high blood pressure, are often not noticeable. However, in some cases, individuals with high blood pressure may experience:

  1. Headaches: Persistent and severe headaches can be a symptom of high blood pressure, but they are not always present.
  2. Nosebleeds: Occasionally, high blood pressure can lead to nosebleeds, but this is not a common symptom.
  3. Dizziness: Some people may feel dizzy or lightheaded, especially when standing up quickly, due to high blood pressure.
  4. Shortness of Breath: In severe cases, high blood pressure can cause difficulty breathing.

It’s important to note that these symptoms are not exclusive to hypertension and can be caused by other health issues as well. The most reliable way to diagnose high blood pressure is through regular blood pressure measurements.

Treatment and early prevention

Lifestyle changes can help lower high blood pressure include eating a healthy, low-salt diet, being physically active, stop intake of tobacco, eat more vegetables and fruits and sit less.

Low-impact exercises, which can include walking, running, swimming, dancing, or activities that build strength, like lifting weights, are some of the best ways to keep BP at bay.

Common blood pressure medicines, such as ACE inhibitors including enalapril and lisinopril, relax blood vessels and prevent kidney damage. Similarly, angiotensin-2 receptor blockers (ARBs) like losartan and telmisartan also relax blood vessels and prevent kidney damage.

The most reliable way to diagnose high blood pressure is through regular blood pressure measurements.

Hypertension is often detected during routine check-ups with healthcare professionals.

If you have concerns about your blood pressure, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare provider for accurate assessment and guidance.

Writing by Adeniyi Bakare; Editing by Saadatu Albashir