It’s so mind-blowing that over 1 billion people on the planet have High Blood Pressure, and the fact that many people do not know that they have the disease earns it the title of “Silent Killer”.

Hypertension, in opposition to popular belief, does not affect adults only; children can also have this non-communicable disease. Hypertension alone causes over 7 million deaths worldwide with a higher proportion in Africa. Hypertension does not just occur in patients with vivid signs and symptoms, it has to be tested for, and that is why the theme for this year is “Measure your Blood Pressure, Control it, Live longer”. You can not know if you have the disease unless you measure your blood pressure consistently.

What is Hypertension?

The pressure the blood exerts on the walls of the vessels as it passes through is simply known as Blood pressure. When this pressure is consistently elevated to values above the normal range, it is known as Hypertension. Depending on the age group and presence of pre-existing conditions, the desired range of blood pressure for the individual might vary, but generally, a consistently elevated blood pressure of ≥140/90mmHg for both Systolic and Diastolic pressure indicates the patient has Hypertension.

What causes Hypertension?

An increased risk of Hypertension can be associated with certain factors such as Family history. In some cases, Hypertension can be hereditary but that does not imply that it can not be managed. It is also common that individuals above 65 years of age are at risk of hypertension. The risk of hypertension is sometimes increased by the presence of pre-existing conditions such as Diabetes. Living a sedentary life, being overweight. unhealthy diets and intake of alcohol all increase the likelihood of hypertension.

What can you do?

Since 2005, World Hypertension Day aims to increase awareness of the disease to the public and highlight the importance of routine measurement of Blood pressure. The importance of regular Blood pressure measurement in reducing the rate of hypertension in society can not be over-stressed. Blood pressure requires constant monitoring. It’s not a one-time thing that is done and forgotten, rather, it ought to be done periodically. Checking your blood pressure regularly is very important, whether you have a family history or not. Amidst the pandemic, you can measure your BP at home using a standard  Sphygmomanometer.

There is more you can do besides checking your blood pressure regularly, and that includes, avoiding a sedentary life. For most people, their common routine does not leave space for exercises and this increases the risk for hypertension. Amidst this pandemic, it even gets worse for some because some states are in lockdown; nevertheless, daily exercises are very important. It may not be as rigorous as lifting dumbbells; it may just be as simple as jogging, push-ups, jumping jacks, etc. Whichever exercises suit you, choose to do them regularly. This helps improve the flow of blood through your vessels.

A healthy diet with low salt consumption also plays a role in the equation. In the fight against hypertension, the first line of defense is a good diet. Suitable diets that help lower blood pressure include the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), Mediterranean-type diets, and OmniHeart diet which is a variant of the DASH diet. Maintaining normal blood pressure involves consuming foods rich in fruits and vegetables, less in salt composition, low in bad fat composition, less of sugary or salty canned and processed foods, and rich in whole grains.

Disciplined adherence to a healthy diet will overall help maintain normal blood pressure.

Non-Communicable diseases are just as serious as Communicable diseases, they are the major cause of death worldwide. Hypertension can not be transmitted from one person to another but it affects over a tenth of the World’s population. Today is World Hypertension Day 2020: Measure your Blood Pressure, Control it, Live longer!

© The Eastern Herald

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