There is an alarming upsurge silently and gradually killing many today. There is not much awareness about the causes and consequences of low blood pressure, as people do not know or notice the symptoms but focus more on high blood pressure.
A medical expert, Dr. Felix Ahamba of Team Clinic, Ajao Estate, Isolo, Lagos, explained low blood pressure, also called hypotension, as the absence of blood flow into the vital organs such as arteries, hearts, kidneys, brain and veins.
He said: “This can lead to more dangerous illnesses such as stroke, heart attack, kidney failure and eye damage, because the vital organs do not receive enough blood to function effectively. Unfortunately, in most cases, the symptoms and signs are mostly prominent and this makes it very dangerous for the victim who can slump at any time.”
Dr. Douglas Nkemdilim, head of clinical services, Nnewi Diocesan Anglican Hospital, Nnewi, Anambra State, also revealed the symptoms of low blood pressure.
He said, “There are other symptoms of low blood pressure but the first-hand symptoms are light-heartedness, dizziness, and fainting.
“Low blood pressure can be as a result of blood shortage, which can be discovered in a blood test, radiologist survey and cardiac test.
“Aside from the stated causes of low blood pressure, other causes of the life-threatening illness are complex and varied, depending on the individual’s blood group. Poor health, nutrition, anxiety, psychological depression, loss, emotional trauma, rejection, mental disorder, domestic pressure, and life experience, can also contribute to low blood pressure in people, which can be worse, if quick medical attention is not given.”
He noted also that an abnormally fast heart rate, also called, tachycardia, can cause low blood pressure and, if left untreated, can develop into other heart-related issues and, finally, death.
Medical experts have explained that low blood pressure in healthy people without symptoms or organ damage does not need treatment. They advise that people should at all times go for check-ups to avoid being caught unawares by the alarming upsurge.
Research has also proved that the most common type of tachycardia that causes low blood pressure is atrial fibrillation, while other abnormally rapid heart rhythms such as ventricular tachycardia, can also be responsible for low blood pressure.
However, some medical experts say the lower the blood pressure, the lower the risk of stroke and heart disease. Thus, in general, it is advised to always seek medical check-ups to mitigate the consequences.
Another medical expert, Dr. Abayomi Ogunbekun, a practitioner with Hoares Memorial Methodist Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, warned patients experiencing low blood pressure against adjusting medication dosages on their own to avoid adverse effects of self-medication. He advised them to take their medications with proper consultation at a certified doctor’s. He recommended that awareness should be made about the silent killer, stressing that people do not know that low blood pressure is deadlier than high blood pressure. He called on government to establish more free health centres for patients living with low blood pressure and provide the necessary drugs free or at affordable price.
Recent incidents have shown that people do not know when their blood level is low, until they become critically ill with the symptoms. In some cases, people sleep and don’t wake up. Others immediately die after a bout of hard labour, and when an autopsy is conducted, it is discovered that they died from low blood pressure.
In most healthy people, symptoms of low blood pressure do not occur until they start losing breath and fainting. Aside from the stated causes of low blood pressure, the condition could can also be hereditary, based on the genetics of the family. There have been cases where grandparents pass it to their grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
Pregnancy and prolonged labour during childbirth is another possible factor that might cause low blood pressure.
In spite of its deadly nature, low blood pressure is quite easy to manage. Experts say it can be normalised with regular check-ups, prompt medications and proper diet. It is a condition that manifests through signs and symptoms and not only by a specific blood pressure number. Thus, some individuals may have low blood pressure with no symptoms.
Jude Igwe, a 38-year-old former banker, was depressed and frustrated due to the economic meltdown and his inability to cater for his wife and four kids. He tried to travel abroad in search of greener pastures but was unsuccessful. He was always feeling weak and dizzy, and didn’t know the cause until a series of tests were conducted and he was diagnosed with severe low blood pressure. He eventually died.
Another victim, Jane Donatus, a 43-year-old divorcee, inherited the illness from her mother. She has been battling it for 25 years. She said she intends to build a health centre for people with low blood pressure, if given the opportunity.
Her words: “I have managed this condition for over 25 years and I don’t know for how long it will let me live. But if I have the opportunity, I will provide free drugs for people who have low blood pressure. I have really suffered on account of this condition.”