Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a very common disease that affects millions of people globally. It is a condition where blood flows through the arteries (blood vessels) at higher than normal pressures.
Also referred to as “silent killer”, high blood pressure is the biggest single risk factor for death worldwide. It is also the leading cause of stroke and a major risk factor for some chronic diseases including heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease.
About 1.5 billion people in the world have high blood pressure, and every year, 9.4 million people die from the condition. In Nigeria, hypertension is a major public health concern where it is estimated that about 1 in 5 adults have the condition.
A person who has high blood pressure has a lot of strain put on his heart and blood vessels. This causes symptoms like headache, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, palpitations, shortness of breath and breathlessness.
These symptoms are however usually not manifested immediately a person develops the condition. In other words, a person may have the condition for years before symptoms begin to develop.
Many people have this condition for years without even knowing it. As a result, a lot of damage would have been done to the body before treatment is sought.
High blood pressure is often thought to be a disease of the elderly, but do you know that anyone, including babies and children can develop the condition?
The exact cause of this chronic disease is not known but there are nevertheless factors that are believed to increase a person’s risk of developing it.
Some of these factors are not controllable, meaning you can’t prevent or control them. Examples include your age, family history, and gender. The controllable factors are those you can prevent and control.
Knowing these factors would help you to make some lifestyle changes where you need to. They include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Regular consumption of alcohol
- High salt intake
- A diet high in unhealthy fats
- Lack of exercise
- A diet low in potassium and vitamin D