September 04, 2019

Hypertension: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Hypertension prevalence in Nigeria

Hypertension is popularly known as the silent killer disease 

Hypertension is also known as high blood pressure. Blood pressure is the amount of force exerted against the walls of the arteries as blood flows through them. A normal blood pressure reading, is less than 120/80mmHg. 

Hypertension prevalence in Nigeria is about 30–45%, but only about half of Nigerians know this, primarily because it rarely causes any noticeable symptoms and is usually detected only incidentally during a routine physical examination.

When hypertension is left untreated, it promotes atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries) and increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney damage and destruction of tiny blood vessels in the eye, which can result in vision loss.

For these reasons hypertension is often called “the silent killer.”

It is therefore important to check your blood pressure on a regular basis, at least 3 times a month.

If you have risk factors for high blood pressure, including being overweight, sedentary or if you have a family history of hypertension or heart disease, you should have it checked more often.

Causes of High Blood Pressure:

1. Age: The older you are, the higher your risk of having high blood pressure.

2. Family history: If you have close family members with hypertension, your chances of developing it are significantly higher

3. Obesity: Both overweight and obese people are more likely to develop high blood pressure, compared to people of normal weight.

4. Smoking: Smoking also reduces the blood's oxygen content so the heart has to pump faster in order to compensate, causing a rise in blood pressure.

5. Other causes can be alcohol intake, high salt intake, high fatty diets, etc.

Noticeable symptoms of High Blood Pressure: 

1. Headache- usually, this will last for several days.

2. Nausea- a sensation of unease and discomfort in the stomach with an urge to vomit.

3. Vomiting- less common than just nausea.

4. Dizziness- Lightheadedness, unsteadiness,

5. Blurred or double vision (diplopia).

6. Epistaxis- nosebleeds.

7. Palpitations- disagreeable sensations of irregular and/or forceful beating of the heart.

Although high blood pressure cannot be cured, it can be controlled with lifestyle changes and, in some cases, medication. Be sure to see your healthcare provider for regular checkups and to monitor your blood pressure.


Hypertension can be managed in the following ways:

👉Get moving: you can measure blood pressure using a sphygmomanometer. Doing a lot of exercising within 30-60 minutes a day is important for a healthy living, it reduces or lowers the blood pressure and decreases your risk of other heart diseases.

People should exercise on at least 5 days in a week, you can engage in exercises such as walking, jogging, swimming or cycling. 

👉 Reduce your salt intak : keeping your sodium intake to a minimum can reduce your blood pressure ,when you eat a lot of sodium your body starts retaining fluid.This results in a sharp rise in blood pressure .

👉 Reduce excess weight: weight and blood pressure go hand in hand, losing just 10 pounds(4.5kg)can help lower your blood pressure. Excess body weight can contribute to hypertension. A fall in blood pressure usually follows weight loss, as the heart does not have to work so hard to pump blood around the body.

👉 limit your alcohol intake: Drinking a lot of alcohol can expose you to alot of health issues and increase your blood pressure .drinking a glass of red wine is perfectly fine but should be taken in moderation. People should avoid taking alcohol, recreational drugs, tobacco and junk food to cope with stress as these can elevate ones blood pressure and the complications of hypertension. 

👉Stress less: stress can temporarily raise your blood pressure ,too much of it can keep your blood pressure up for extended periods of time. Identify the sources causing you stress be it your finances, relationships, work e.t.c.once you know the source of your stress, you can try to find ways to fix the problem.

You can try taking a deep breath ,meditating or practising yoga .

👉 Smoking: Smoking can increase blood pressure. Avoiding or quitting smoking reduces the risk of hypertension, serious heart conditions, and other health issues. 

👉 Eating more of fruits and vegetables and less fat: People who have high blood pressure or people at high risk of developing high blood pressure should eat as little saturated and total fat as possible.

Instead, experts recommend- varieties of fruits and vegetables, whole grain(high fibre foods, beans, pulses and nuts, fish rich in omega-3 twice a week nontropical vegetable oils, for example, olive oil skinless poultry and fish low fat dairy products,it is important to avoid trans fats ,hydrogenated vegetable oils, and animal fats, as well as large portion sizes. Some fats, such as those in oily fish and olive oil, have protective effects on the heart. 

However, these are still fats. While they are typically healthful, people with a risk of hypertension should still include them in their total fat intake.

👉 The dash diet: The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommend the DASH diet for people with high blood pressure. DASH stands for "Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension."

DASH is a flexible and balanced eating plan with a firm grounding in research by the NHLBI who advise that the diet:
lowers high blood pressure improves levels of fats in the bloodstream reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease

The NHLBI produce a cookbook called Keep the Beat Recipes that provides meal ideas to help reduce blood pressure.

Research from 2014 suggests that using probiotic supplements for 8 weeks or more may benefit people with hypertension.

Remember Health Is Wealth 

Written By: Okpah Marvelous 

Reviewed by: Isikadi Precious RN

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