Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) is the presence of persistently elevated blood pressure (above 140/90 mm Hg). In 90% of cases no direct cause can be found [primary hypertension]. The rest [secondary hypertension] may be due to diseases of the kidneys, blood vessels, abnormal hormone production etc.
When the Doctor sees the patient, he will search for evidence of a secondary cause and correct when possible. He will also examine for injury to the heart, eyes, kidneys brain and blood vessels, as longstanding hypertension tend to harm these parts of the body.
The higher the level of either systolic or diastolic blood pressure the greater the risk of hypertension-associated catastrophe and end organ damage.
PREDISPOSING FACTORS FOR HYPERTENSION
- Heredity predisposition [from parents]
- Excess body weight [obesity]
- Tobacco / cigarette smoking
- Lack of physical exercise / sedentary lifestyle
- Excess alcohol intake
- Ingestion of excess salt over many years
- Other diseases like kidney disease, Diabetes mellitus, hormonal problems etc.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THERE IS HYPERTENSION?
- TO BLOOD VESSELS
The linings of blood vessels subjected to blood flowing at abnormally high pressure become damaged. This injury may encourage blood clot to form, blocking them and reducing supply to organs. Such clots may dislodge and block other more distal vessels partially or completely. The walls of injured vessels may also expand abnormally forming aneurisms or may burst.
- TO THE HEART
When the pressure against which the heart must pump blood becomes higher. It is forced to work much more. Over long periods its walls become very thick and need more oxygen. The combined effect of this, and the occlusion of the vessels that supply it blood [by cholesterol plaques] may result in ischaemia, a situation when its oxygen needs out way its supply. With time, the heart muscles, starved of oxygen and food may die [heart attack] or can no longer meet the body’s demands and fail [heart failure]. Both conditions can result in death.
- TO THE EYE
Blood vessels in the eye may burst or bleed causing partial or total blindness.
- TO THE BRAIN
Blood vessels in the brain, exposed to prolong assault may burst causing haemorrhagic stroke. Blood clots formed in other traumatised blood vessels can also be pushed to the brain blocking its supply and starving the brain of oxygen, causing thrombotic stroke.
- TO THE KIDNEY
Blood vessels in the kidneys, exposed to prolong trauma become damaged and unable to filter salts and fluids. This further worsens the hypertension, setting off a vicious cycle.
You and your family must adopt a healthy lifestyle now.
Do not wait until you are forty!
- Avoid tobacco smoking
- Avoid excess alcohol intake
- Avoid junk food
- Reduce salts [e.g. cooking salt, ‘Magi’, ‘Knorr’ etc.] in your foods
- Mind your calories.
Health is Wealth.