Do you worry about high blood pressure (hypertension)? For many of us who think it is an ‘old person’s disease’, the answer is probably ‘no’. Unfortunately, hypertension affects people of all ages and there is an increasing number of ‘younger’ people diagnosed as hypertensive, especially men.
According to the World Health Organisation, a staggering 40% of Nigerians are hypertensive and from all indications, this number will only rise. This isn’t surprising considering how we are eating more fast food and living a life more sedentary (both of which are risk factors for high blood pressure).
Hypertension: The silent killer
Hypertension, if uncontrolled, can be very serious. Globally, it contributes to 13% of all deaths and is associated with a number of devastating complications including stroke, heart attack, erectile dysfunction, vision loss and kidney disease. Often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ – it has no symptoms. This is why we need to pay attention before it is too late.
Do you know your numbers?
People tend to find out they are hypertensive during a routine check or when diagnosed with a known complication. As such, many live with the disease without knowing they have it. To live a life that is healthy and to reduce the risk of future complications, the first step is to know your blood pressure numbers.
Blood pressure readings: What it means and the next steps to take
- Below 120/80 mmHg: Your blood pressure levels are normal. You should maintain or adopt a healthy lifestyle.
- Over 120/80 but less than 140/90 mmHg: You are at risk of hypertension. You need to seek medical attention and maintain/adopt a healthy lifestyle
- Over 140/90 mmHg: If this value is consistently over 140/90 you are hypertensive. You should consult a doctor and they will most likely encourage you to embrace lifestyle changes and/or prescribe anti-hypertensive medication.
Reducing your blood pressure doesn’t have to be complicated
As with many diseases, the key to reducing your risk is to adopt a number of lifestyle changes. Here are some recommendations that are simple, practical and sustainable.
- Achieve and maintain a healthy body weight
- Try to do some moderate-intensity activity every day (aim for 30 mins)
- Eat a diet high in fruit and vegetables and low in salt, fat and cholesterol
- Manage stress by engaging in activities you find relaxing
- Limit alcohol intake to no more than 1 – 2 drinks a day (if at all)
- Take your blood pressure medicine as prescribed
Knowing your blood pressure & living a healthy lifestyle are the best ways to reduce the risk and/or prevent the progression of hypertension.
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