High blood pressure or hypertension is also known as a "silent killer" due to the fact that there are rarely any physical symptoms and 50% of people with hypertension are unaware of the condition.
It is important to educate yourself on the risks and facts around hypertension, as it can have negative effects on your heart, eyes, brain and kidneys. Hypertension is manageable and is diagnosed by means of a blood pressure reading, measured with a blood pressure gauge.
Am I at risk for hypertension?
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa, you may be at risk for hypertension if:
- It runs in your family
- You are over the age of 55
- You are not physically active
- You have an unhealthy diet, particularly one high in salt and low in fruit and vegetables
- You are overweight or obese
- You drink an excessive amount of alcohol
- You smoke
What is a blood pressure reading?
According to the Southern African Hypertension Society, your blood pressure is recorded as two sets of numbers, one systolic (the first or top number) and the other diastolic (second or lower number).
Your systolic reading is the pressure measured in your blood vessels when your heart beats, while the diastolic reading is the pressure measured when your heart rests between beats.
When is my blood pressure considered high?
In South Africa, blood pressure is considered high when it is 140/90 mm Hg or higher.
Symptoms of hypertension
Although hypertension rarely displays any symptoms, according to Health24, if your blood pressure is extremely high, common symptoms include facial flush, headaches, visual disturbances, nose bleeds, nausea and vomiting.
Stages of hypertension
Stage 1 or mild hypertension: 140/90 to 159/99
Stage 2 or moderate hypertension: 160/100 to 179/109
Stage 3 or severe hypertension: 180/110 or higher
What should I do if I suffer from hypertension?
Hypertension is treatable. There are simple changes you can make to maintain a healthy lifestyle and manage your hypertension:
- Take your prescribed medication regularly
- Maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Lower your salt intake
- Increase physical activity
- Cut down or stop smoking
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Limit or manage stress
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Check your blood pressure regularly
Hypertension causes 13% of deaths globally. In South Africa, more than one in three adults lives with high blood pressure. It is responsible for one in every two strokes and two in every five heart attacks, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa.
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