Hypertension: The silent killer

Alyona, a young woman in her 30s woke up at 5.30am on a beautiful Wednesday morning to get ready for work. Her office is two hours away from her home and she needs to be at work on or before 8:00am. She works as a receptionist in a microfinance bank. She closes at 5.30pm and spends close to four hours in traffic on her way home. On getting home, she is tired and eats the takeout meal she bought on her way home and goes to bed immediately after eating. She repeats the cycle every single day except on weekends.

However on this fateful day, she started her usual routine and got to the office at 7:45am. She quickly hurried to her desk while frantically searching her bag for her keys. Her hands began to shake and she started sweating. Few seconds later she was on the floor, unconscious but she was rushed to the hospital immediately by the security personnel on grounds. At the hospital she was informed that she collapsed because her blood pressure was very high and was diagnosed with hypertension. She was probably educated on measures to adequately control her blood pressure.

Hypertension: what is it?

Hypertension is no longer a disease affecting only old people. It has been known to affect young people even as young as 25 years of age. An estimated 1.28 billion adults aged 30–79 years worldwide have hypertension, most (two-thirds) living in low- and middle-income countries. Most people living with hypertension are unaware which is very dangerous to their health. Hypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure (SBP) of 140 mm Hg or more, or a diastolic blood pressure (DBP) of 90 mm Hg or more. In simpler terms, the blood in our blood vessels can move at high pressure which can be very dangerous to our health. Pressure values greater than 140/90mmHg is a cause of concern. However hypertension can be adequately managed and does not necessarily have to be a death sentence. Albeit before we talk about its management let’s talk about the risk factors and prevention.

Hypertension: Risk factors

From the story above let us identify the risk factors Alyona exhibited. She had a very unhealthy lifestyle which most salary earners in developing countries live today. She did not sleep enough, ate processed foods, was under constant stress, lack of exercise. Risk factors for hypertension can be divided into modifiable and non-modifiable factors. Modifiable factors include lack of sleep, lack of exercise, diet, overweight, stress etc. Non-modifiable factors include age, gender, race, family history, genetics. Advancing age, male gender, black race and a family history of hypertension increases your chances of having hypertension. While you can’t change these factors you can still control your lifestyle.

Exercise

It is recommended to do at least 30 mins of moderate physical activity at least three times a week. This will strengthen your cardiac and skeletal muscles. Remember your stressful commute to and fro work does not count as exercise.

Diet

Processed foods contain a lot of salt, trans fats and cholesterol which can block the blood vessels over time which results in increased blood pressure. You should eat a balanced diet containing carbs, protein, healthy fats, fruits and vegetables. Remember portion control is very important as obesity is also a risk factor for hypertension.

Stress

You should have at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep per day. The hustle and bustle of the big city, try to make enough money to take care of our wants and needs can be quite stressful. Many people are doing jobs they don’t like in repeated cycles. Try to find something that you enjoy doing, have a social life, relax, be spontaneous and watch your stress levels reduce.

REMEMBER

Hypertension is a silent killer because most times it goes unidentified . Checking your BP regularly at least once a week and controlling your lifestyle will go a long way in stopping hypertension in its tracks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *