Having your blood pressure tested is a simple but vital health check that should be done at least once a year – sometimes more if your family has a history of blood pressure-related problems. The acceptable range for blood pressure is between 120/80 – 139/89, anything above or below that will be classified as abnormal. Of greatest concern is high blood pressure as it shows no symptoms, which is why it can catch you unaware and has become known as the silent killer.
High blood pressure
One in three South Africans (about 6.3 million people) are said to suffer from high blood pressure. While it may not sound very dangerous, it is a major cause of heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and premature death. Pharmaceutical company Novartis has reported that about 130 heart attacks and 240 strokes occur every day in South Africa, and these are often linked to high blood pressure. It has become a serious concern for health officials, and even been called an epidemic, particularly because it is a condition that can be easily prevented.
The exact cause of high blood pressure in a person can be difficult to pinpoint, although there are a number of factors which are linked to high blood pressure, also called Hypertension. The following factors are seen as the main causes of Hypertension:
- Being overweight
- High of salt intake
- And insufficient minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium
- A lack of physical activity
- High levels of alcohol consumption
- Certain medications
- Kidney disease
- Thyroid problems
Hypertension can quietly damage a persons body for years before symptoms develop, attacking the arteries, heart, brain, kidneys, eyes, and can even cause sexual dysfunction. This is why it is imperative to get your blood pressure tested at least once a year, even if you don’t have any symptoms indicating high blood pressure.
Once present, the symptoms of extremely high blood pressure include severe headaches, dizziness, fatigue or confusion, nausea, problems with vision, breathing problems, chest pains, an irregular heartbeat or blood in the urine.
Hypertension can be managed with medication. People living with high blood pressure should maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating a balanced diet and lowering salt intake, exercising regularly, cutting out smoking and limiting alcoholic drinks.
Prevention is better than cure. Make sure that you familiarise yourself with the symptoms of Hypertension and consult a doctor as soon as any worrisome symptoms present itself. There is a common misconception that Hypertension only occurs in older males. Hypertension is a condition that can affect anyone of any age or gender, so make sure to maintain good overall health to avoid becoming the next patient!
Fast facts about high blood pressure:
- It’s lowest when you sleep and rises when you get up.
- It affects children and teens.
- It is prevalent in obese people and heavy drinkers.
- It is a common condition amongst women who take oral contraceptives.
- It can develop slowly over years.
- It poses a threat to the fetus of pregnant mothers.