On a bright early Monday morning while at work, a young man suddenly developed distressing chest pain and difficulty breathing. He was rushed to the hospital where it was discovered after a series of tests that he had developed features of hypertensive heart disease. Most complications of high blood pressure as seen in this story result from prolonged untreated high blood pressure due to poor home monitoring of blood pressure.
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CHECK YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE?
Have you been using standard recommendations to monitor your blood pressure? This article will highlight high blood pressure causes, guidelines for home high blood pressure monitoring, and how to prevent complications of high blood pressure.
WHAT IS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
According to the World Health Organisation, high blood pressure which is also called hypertension, occurs when there is a persistent systolic blood pressure reading of >140mmHg and a diastolic reading of >90mmHg. Systolic blood pressure value is the numerator while diastolic value is the denominator in a blood pressure reading.
Therefore, you are not hypertensive if a single reading of 140/90mmHg is detected. This high single reading calls for regular self –monitoring.
CLARIFYING HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE MYTHS AND FACTS IN NIGERIA
A recent study on hypertension in Nigeria revealed that 38% of adults above 18 years old in Nigeria were hypertensive and it was more prevalent in the Southeast region of Nigeria.
Here are common myths about hypertension:
- I feel healthy so my blood pressure is normal: This is a wrong notion because hypertension does not present any symptoms in the majority of cases.
- I can stop my blood pressure drugs since my blood pressure is now low: High blood pressure is a life-long condition so you must seek a health professional’s counsel when your blood pressure becomes low.
- My blood pressure drugs are not working: Treatment for hypertension requires proper clinic follow-up to rule out factors like high cholesterol and lifestyle habits such as excess alcohol which affects optimal blood pressure control.
- High blood pressure is not preventable: Hypertension can be prevented by adjusting your lifestyle and in the absence of secondary causes like chronic kidney disease.
RISK FACTORS AND CAUSES OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
Risk factors of high blood pressure can be grouped into modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors.
Modifiable risk factors are those factors that can be changed such as unwholesome eating, excessive salt and alcohol intake, chronic exposure to stress, and smoking tobacco.
Non-modifiable risk factors include irreversible factors like genetic causes and advancing age.
Causes of hypertension are as follows:
- Genetic cause: This is also called primary hypertension. These individuals have an inherited genetic causative factor and no specific organic cause.
- Chronic kidney diseases.
- Hormonal causes like hyperthyroidism and adrenal tumors.
- Illegal use of drugs like cocaine and self-medication with over-the-counter drugs.
HOME HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE MONITORING
You need a blood pressure monitoring device to check your blood pressure at home. Blood pressure monitoring at home should not replace frequent clinic follow up visits.
The following are recommended guidelines for self-blood pressure check:
- Stay quietly for 5-10 minutes before checking your blood pressure.
- Rest your arm on a table to raise the arm to the heart level.
- Do not use a wrist or finger blood pressure monitor device.
- Apply the blood pressure cuff directly on your skin.
- Ensure the cuff size fits your upper arm circumference.
The image above shows a blood pressure device that is not recommended for a blood pressure check.
DIAGNOSIS AND SCREENING OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE IN NIGERIA.
A diagnosis of hypertension is made when the blood pressure value on repeated episodes exceeds 140/90mmHg.
Also, some people could have non- specific high blood pressure signs such as severe headaches, nosebleeds, blurred vision, and irregular heartbeat.
The following are high blood pressure screening tests:
- Fasting blood glucose.
- Fasting lipid profile
- Electrolytes, urea, and creatinine assay.
CONSEQUENCES OF UNTREATED HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE.
- Heart attack or angina.
- Kidney damage.
- Visual impairment
- Abnormal swelling in the brain vessels called aneurysm.
HOW TO CONTROL HYPERTENSION
- Eat wholesome foods like fruits and vegetables.
- Reduce the intake of fatty meals.
- Stay physically active as recommended in the 2020 World Heart Day theme.
- Avoid and manage stress
- Take your medications regularly.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure is among the major cause of death globally and in Nigeria. Hypertension affects both young and old adults. Regular self-monitoring and screening reduce the chances of developing the complications discussed above.
Which of the self-monitoring guidelines have you been keeping?
Fill this Blood pressure check form to get matched to where you can check your blood pressure.
Click the link below to learn more about how you can get your blood pressure checked for free at a location close to you in Nigeria.
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