Hypertension also called high blood pressure, is a leading cause of death and disease in Nigeria. The condition is long-lasting and, though you can manage it safely with medicines, you can not cure it. Learn more about hypertension by reading this post- high blood pressure.
Hypertension affects almost one in three adult Nigerians, and more than half of them do not know that they have the condition. This means that they go untreated and run the risk of serious complications. The World Health Organization (WHO) has assigned May 17th of every year as World Hypertension Day. This year, the theme is “measure your blood pressure, control it and live longer.” WHO and its partners aim to promote testing for and education about hypertension, and the benefits of controlling blood pressure.
You have high blood pressure when your blood pressure numbers are higher than what is considered normal at your age. Hypertension can increase your likelihood of having a stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, liver disease, trouble remembering things, and even death.
When you are diagnosed with hypertension, your healthcare provider will ask you to begin taking medicines that gently reduce the pressure on your blood vessels and will protect your heart, kidneys, liver, and blood vessels from damage.
High blood pressure is known as the silent killer.
Let's take the example of Chidi (not his real name, to protect his privacy), a final year student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. Early this year, he slumped while helping his father move goods to their store in the Nsukka mechanic and spare parts market. He was rushed to hospital, where it was confirmed he had a stroke due to uncontrolled high blood pressure. Chidi survived a stroke at 28 years, but he has not fully recovered. He currently receives specialist care at the cardiology clinic at his university's hospital.
Chidi's story began much like those of millions of adult Nigerians living with high blood pressure, without symptoms. Most people with high blood pressure show no symptoms until they suffer from organ damage.
Hypertension doesn't sneak up on you like 'Blade' in Blood Sisters. The condition is more subtle like 'Ade Tiger' in KOB's The Return of the King. This lack of symptoms is why you need to check your blood pressure regularly to catch this sneaky threat to your health.
Visit a pharmacy or a healthcare centre to measure your blood pressure.
Do not take blood pressure medicines without a prescription from your healthcare provider.
When you go for blood pressure measurements, you will usually receive two numbers, for example, 120 and 80 mmHg.
The first number (in this case 120), is your systolic blood pressure. It tells the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. There is usually more pressure when the heart pumps blood out of its chambers.
The second number (in this case 80) is your diastolic blood pressure. It tells the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart rests between beats. When the heart is resting, its chambers refill with blood.
There are no magic numbers that you must aim for. An older adult who has high blood sugar will have a different target from another older adult who doesn't have other diseases. Your healthcare providers will determine whether you have hypertension and they will draw up a management plan with you when you are diagnosed with the condition. However, if your blood pressure numbers are 140 and 90 or more then you definitely have high blood pressure.
Have your blood pressure checked at least once a year when you are 35 years or older. You should check more often if you have high blood pressure or have other long-term diseases.
To ensure your blood pressure numbers are accurate take the following steps:
- Don’t eat or drink anything 30 minutes before taking your blood pressure.
- Empty your bladder before checking your blood pressure.
- Sit in a comfortable chair with your back supported for at least 5 minutes before checking your blood pressure.
- Rest both feet flat on the ground, and do not cross your legs.
- Use a table where your arm (with the cuff) and machine are at chest height.
- Have the cuff on your bare skin, wearing it over clothing may cause errors. Also, ensure the cuff wraps properly around your arm, small or large cuffs can affect the measurement.
- Do not talk while your blood pressure is being measured.
You can get your blood pressure taken in healthcare centres, private hospitals and pharmacies. Most private healthcare facilities in Nigeria offer free blood pressure checks. Be sure to confirm that the check is free before using the service.