Expert warns that lack of exercise overconsumption of salt, alcohol
can lead to sudden death
Ayobami Dorcas Olajumoke
Hypertension has often been tagged the silent killer. Recently, a health professional, Olanrewaju Samuel Bandaki, gave some insight into this scourge, proffering useful tips on how to manage it. He explained that, before a person could be diagnosed with hypertension, the individual’s blood pressure must have been examined at least three times between intervals with the conclusion that the fellow was suffering from high blood pressure. Indeed, many in the recent past have fallen to this deadly challenge, which sneaks in like a thief in the night, dealing its victims devastating blows.
Many believe in living their lives to the fullest. But there is the growing fear of what happens when the normal way of life poses great risks to the individual’s health. According to medical experts, one of the pointers to hypertension is stress, a condition most people are currently predisposed to. However, it is believed that stress is not altogether a bad condition, as some people perform optimally under it. So, stress sometimes serves as a motivator. But when it becomes frequent and excessive, it might lead to some other medical challenges.
Altogether, stress is often part of the primary causes of hypertension. Many living in urban areas are largely predisposed to it because of the lifestyle practices associated with rapid urbanisation, with people indulging in unhealthy foods while leaving themselves little or no room to exercise.
Over the years, researchers have maintained the view that hypertension among adults would be on a steady rise, projecting that 75 per cent of older people would be hypertensive in low and middle-income countries by 2025.
In a chat with Daily Sun, Bandaki informed the reporter that stress could lead to high blood pressure. And people might be suffering from this condition for a long period without realising it until other complications of the illness kick in. He said that the condition could hardly be detected until a proper screening is carried out, noting that it is difficult to know if one is suffering from the challenge or not. He stated that high blood pressure could occur when blood pumped by the heart through the arteries comes in contact with some form of resistance.
“The arteries are elastic in nature but, while one is aging, they gradually become plastic. This does not mean that children don’t have high blood pressure. It also happens, but the challenge is more common among adults,” he said.
He explained that, most times, high blood pressure could hardly be linked to a particular cause, thus emphasising the need for regular checks for blood pressure to be conducted using a monitor (sphygmomanometer). He said that, rarely, the high blood pressure could be due to a hormonal or kidney problems, which explains why children can also be hypertensive, adding that it could also be as a result of reaction to medications.
The doctor further explained that primary hypertension, which happens to be the most common in 94 per cent of all cases, had no cure. It could, however, be controlled with therapeutic lifestyle medications and drugs. The therapeutic lifestyle medications are useful to a lot of obese people, it makes their heart work more by pumping blood to a larger surface so that the vessels are hard and resistant. So, when an individual loses weight, their blood pressure can also reduce; the body mass index (BMI) of a healthy individual should lie somewhere between 18 and 25 when it is calculated.
Furthermore, Bandaki said the complications of the disease could affect four major body organs, including the brain. When this happens, it might lead to a stroke and, when not managed properly, this could lead to heart failure or escalate to cardiac arrest.
“Hypertension also destroys the kidney and affects the walls of the blood vessels by causing a thickening, which can likely develop into atherosclerosis,” he said.
He explained that there were various classifications of the disease, depending on the reading of the blood-pressure meter, which records measurement in two numbers. The number on top is the amount of pressure in the arteries during contraction of the heart muscle, referred to as systolic pressure, while the bottom number refers to the blood pressure when the heart muscle is beating. This is the diastolic pressure.
Bandaki stated that for a normal reading, the systolic pressure should be between 90 and 120 while the diastolic pressure is between 60 and 80. Any reading greater than the ideal range indicates that the heart is working too hard to pump blood to the rest of the body.
He explained that pre-hypertension occurs when the systolic pressure is between 120 and 139 or the diastolic pressure is between 80 and 89. Although it does not lead to high blood pressure when it is above the normal range, it can escalate quickly, if the patient does not adopt a healthier lifestyle.
The doctor stresed that a patient would be diagnosed with high blood pressure when the systolic pressure is between 140 and 159 or the diastolic pressure between 90 and 99, after a period of time. This is Stage 1 hypertension. If the blood pressure readings show a top value of 160 or more, or a bottom value of 100 or more, it is considered as Stage 2 hypertension.
Bandaki stated that, at this stage, one or more medications would be recommended to keep the blood pressure under control but could not be relied on solely for treatment as lifestyle habits were just as important in Stage 2, which is the final stage.
He linked stress to hypertension, explaining that it was a major factor for heart diseases. Chronic stress, he noted, could expose the body to elevated levels of stress hormones, which could increase the risk of a heart attack, while behaviours linked to stress, such as overconsumption of alcoholic drinks, and poor sleeping habits, can cause high blood pressure. He mentioned that the normal living conditions of Africans could not be compared to those in the Western world, as stress conditions could arise in African environments, especially as people try to eke out a living and get some basic needs that are ordinarily provided free in Western societies. This is contributes significantly to high incidence of hypertension in Africa.
Bandaki shared some health tips, warning that fats produce cholesterol and should be avoided. He recommended the consumption of vegetables and fruits, because they are more beneficial to the body. He added that daily exercise is very necessary for a healthy life; even a 30-minute walk daily is enough to keep one healthy.
Bandaki also warned against excessive alcohol intake and overconsumption of salt, maintaining that such should be avoided at all cost. He noted that an individual who adopts these health tips would do themselves a world of good by also reading their blood pressures at least twice a month.