Raised blood pressure (BP) is said to be one of the key risk factors of cardiovascular (CVD), cerebrovascular and renal diseases.
Cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure (BP) and hypertension are said to be one of the big factors of risk for cardiovascular diseases. Both raised blood pressure and hypertension account for almost 13 per cent of deaths worldwide.
World Hypertension Day on 17 May aims to increase the awareness of hypertension. Hypertension is when your blood pressure reading is more than 140/90 mm Hg over a number of weeks. Almost 50 per cent of people globally are not aware that they have hypertension. Communications officer of the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa Nuraan Cader said, “It is therefore not uncommon for these individuals to become acutely ill from heart disease or suffer a stroke. While the risk of high BP increases with age, pregnant females are also at risk.”
High blood pressure can be managed and controlled by taking the appropriate medication. The important to take the prescribed medication every day – not doing this will lead to unmanaged hypertension which is dangerous to your health.
Professor Pamela Naidoo CEO of the foundation added, “Given that hypertension is treatable, it is important to know whether, in fact, you are at risk.”
Someone who has high blood pressure must receive correct, professional health advice, whether they need medication or not. “The best way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked by a doctor or a health practitioner,” said Cader.
“In some cases, the doctor may recommend monitoring and recording blood pressure measurements at home to obtain your blood pressure readings at particular times of the day or after taking medication. It is recommended that a high-quality portable blood pressure machine is used to get accurate results. You may also speak to your doctor about which machine he or she can recommend.”
According to Cader, the following risk factors can play a role in raised blood pressure and hypertension:
Excessive salt intake can have harmful effects on our health leading to hypertension. One should not take more than one level teaspoon of salt. However, South Africans are consuming 8.5g daily on average. Salt legislation has been implemented to limit the amount of salt in food consumed by South Africans, but individuals need to take action and responsibility to reduce the amount of salt consumed.
Stressing a lot often leads to unhealthy eating behaviours which are said to be major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. These behaviours include not exercising, snacking on unhealthy foods, overeating, smoking and drinking alcohol excessively. Stress levels can be reduced by staying active, getting enough sleep and cutting bad habits like smoking.
Tobacco use is strongly associated with increased blood pressure. “Even people who smoke less than five cigarettes a day are at risk of early heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, the effect of tobacco use on heart health is reversible,” said Cader.
Cader said it’s important that individuals who have diabetes monitor their blood pressure carefully. Careful management of blood glucose and blood pressure levels can reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications including cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease.
In conclusion, it is important to know your blood pressure reading and to take the steps to prevent hypertension. If you have high blood pressure or hypertension, make sure to take your medication as prescribed and lead an active and healthy lifestyle.