Know Your Numbers!

A heart attack or stroke – complications that arise from high blood pressure could lead to physical disability or death.  These complications cost a lot to manage and may have destructive effects on the
quality of life of its survivor. Prior to the attack, a person might be living ‘normal’ with no need for a visit to the doctor. There may be neither signs nor symptoms yet deep down the blood vessels; so many damages are taking place. These damages include:
        Ø  Thickening/ hardening of the vessels.
        Ø  Weakening of the vessels.
        Ø  Bulging of the vessels which could lead to aneurysm and rupturing.
 The blood vessels undergo damages because they are constantly under a raised pressure due to increased stress. This is reflected as a high blood pressure when measured using a sphygmomanometer. The raised blood pressure makes the heart to do much work trying to pump out blood.
Factors that increase the likely of a high blood pressure include:
·         Age
·         Use of tobacco
·         Physical inactivity
·         Obesity
·         Stress
·         Some disease conditions such as diabetes, sleep apnea, kidney failure etc.
·         Processed diet:  Containing high sodium level and fats.
According to WHO, the number of persons with uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension) rose from 600m in 1980 to 1 billion in 2008 and the number keeps rising by the day. Unfortunately, Africa has a record of having the highest prevalence of this number 1 cause of disease burden in the world. However, the good news is that hypertension can be managed as well as prevented if conscious efforts are made to KNOW YOUR NUMBERS- blood pressure, blood sugar level etc. With various treatment options available, it is possible to control high blood pressure and prevent complications that arise from it.

By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi


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