Updated 07 July 2014

8 things you should know about hypertension

17 May is World Hypertension Day. Here are eight things you should know about high blood pressure, courtesy of Pretoria cardiologist, Dr Adriaan Snyders.


17 May is World Hypertension Day. Here are eight things you should know about high blood pressure, courtesy of Pretoria cardiologist, Dr Adriaan Snyders:

  • The most important reading is the one taken first thing in the morning before taking your medication and before you need to face the traffic, customers, bosses, patients, family, etc.  If that value is normal (<140/<90mmHg), the prognosis is good whatever the value is later in the day.  It illustrates that your medication taken the day before is still working until early the next day. Thus, if you have hypertension, a home blood pressure monitor is a MUST and at an average cost of R400 it is affordable. (Costs = 1/3 of the monthly money you save by not smoking or the cost of one day in a normal ward bed in a hospital)
  • By quitting smoking you will save up to R 1 200 per month and up to R 14 400 per year - enough for a “nice” Christmas box, for yourself of course!
  • When is your blood pressure inappropriately low?  When dizziness affects the quality of your life.  Monitor this by taking your blood pressure 10 minutes after at least 20 minutes of brisk exercise (you are doing that regularly I suppose – that is at least 5 days per week if you are > 50 and 6 days a week if your are younger).  Remember, dizziness may also be a sign of high blood pressure.
  • Hypertension is often, but not always, asymptomatic.  An early morning headache - may be due to a few causes including having too much wine the previous night, and even hypertension.  Not being able to walk uphill as you used to do is another alarming symptom, if you are not overweight or unfit.  Uncontrolled hypertension contributes to dementia; can precipitate heart failure even with “good” cardiac function and can cause angina in people with normal coronary arteries.
  • Woman with hypertension that smoke are at high risk of cerebral stroke, specifically if they also taking hormone therapy.
  • Even though it is not true that hypertension causes myocardial infarctions, it contributes to hardening of arteries / atherosclerosis and your medical aid will exclude you from infarction benefits if you are in a probation period.
  • Uncontrolled hypertension may change your ECG and this may lead to inappropriate early coronary angiography and special investigations.
  • You do not have to be old to have hypertension.  A high blood pressure in the elderly is not normal even though there is a “normal” tendency for higher blood pressure in the elderly.  The elderly may also have a “normal” blood pressure and be healthy.  The diastolic pressure however should never be <60mmHg.

(Bespoke Strategic Communications press release)

- (Health24, May 2012)

Read more:

Hypertension: the silent killer
'I knew nothing about hypertension'
Exercise cuts hypertension deaths
The truth about salt


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Dr Jacomien de Villiers qualified as a specialist physician at the University of Pretoria in 1995. She worked at various clinics at the Department of Internal Medicine, Steve Biko Hospital, these include General Internal Medicine, Hypertension, Diabetes and Cardiology. She has run a private practice since 2001, as well as a consultant post at the Endocrine Clinic of Steve Biko Hospital.

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