Causes, symptoms, care of hypertension

Hypertension can lead to blindness – Expert

A health practitioner, Dr. Kayode Atoyebi, talks to TOPE OMOGBOLAGUN about hypertension

What is blood pressure?

It is the pressure at which blood moves in the body or pressure at which blood flows throughout our body. We have the systolic blood pressure and we have diastolic pressure.

The systolic pressure is the upper value while diastolic is the lower values. For example, if the blood pressure reads 120/80, the 120 is the systolic while the 80 is the diastolic.

What do those figures mean?

For anybody, whether old or young, the blood pressure must not be greater than 140/90. In essence, the systolic pressure should not be more than 139 while the diastolic should not be less than 89. If a person has blood pressure of 140/90 maybe more than twice, it means that the person has high blood pressure. We have what we call the optimal blood pressure; the optimal is 120/80.

Does people blood pressure change over time?

If a person is discovered to have high blood pressure, then the treatment is for life. And that is why I said that the person must have taken the test like twice on two different occasions before it can be said that a person’s blood pressure is still intact or a person has developed hypertension.

What is the importance of knowing one’s blood pressure?

It is very important because BP is a silent killer. When the blood pressure is very high, such a person is labelled to have hypertension. If it is not taken care of, it can lead to stroke. It affects every part of the body. It can affect the brain, the heart, the kidney and every other part of the body. Prevention, early detection and proper treatment can help prevent every form of complications. Once all these complications set in, it is difficult to manage.

What are the causes of hypertension?

The exact cause of it is not known but there are some factors that predispose one to have high blood pressure. Excessive consumption of salt can lead to it, genetic factors and also lot diseases have been linked to an increase in blood pressure; kidney disease, people who have issue with their adrenal gland, inactivity, poor diet, obesity, and older age can all contribute to the development of hypertension. A lot of factors can contribute to it. I have just mentioned a few.

Does one get treated of high blood pressure?

I cannot say one can get completely treated of hypertension but there are some special cases. For example, if a person develops hypertension as a result of kidney diseases, it is until the kidney disease gets treated that a person can now control the high blood pressure. But the treatment of hypertension is a lifetime thing. You have to continue taking medications for life, even though medications can be readjusted but not that the person goes off the drug for a long time. You manage it for a lifetime.

How can blood pressure be managed?

Basically, what we do is to adjust the person’s dietary lifestyle. First, we advise the person to have less salt intake, no consumption of alcohol and the person should quit smoking. Exercise is very important but all these sedentary lifestyle and consumption of fast foods should be minimally reduced. Before you now go to drug treatment, there are so many drugs that can be used in treating high blood pressure. We call them anti-hypertensive drugs. These days, people consume a lot of things such as drugs and substances that can propel hypertension.

Does anti-hypertensive drug have side effects?

Yes, all drugs have their own side effects but it depends on an individual. A person is usually tested before they are given anti-hypertensive drugs.

What are the symptoms of hypertension?

As I said, hypertension is a silent killer; sometimes, it doesn’t even give you any symptom until a person walks into a hospital to check the blood pressure and finds out he or she has hypertension. However, persistent headache is a pointer that a person has hypertension. If a person has consistent headache, then the person should have his or her blood pressure checked immediately. Also, if your blood pressure is extremely high, you may have unusually strong headaches, chest pain, difficulty breathing, or poor exercise tolerance. If you have any of these symptoms, seek an evaluation promptly.

Sometimes, a person wouldn’t even have any symptoms at all before he has hypertension.

What damage does hypertension do to the body?

Hypertension can cause as many harm as possible to the body if it is not properly treated. It can cause blindness, which is called hypertensive reticule. A person can go blind if it is not controlled. There is no organ that it cannot damage. It can cause Atherosclerosis, a disease of the arteries caused by a build-up of plaque, or fatty material, on the inside walls of the blood vessels. Hypertension contributes to this build-up by putting added stress and force on the artery walls. It can also lead to heart disease, heart failure (the heart is not strong enough to pump blood adequately), ischemic heart disease (the heart tissue doesn’t get enough blood and oxygen), and hypertensive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (thickened, abnormally functioning heart muscle) are all associated with high blood pressure.

Hypertension can damage the blood vessels and filters in the kidneys, so that the kidneys cannot excrete waste properly. Kidney disease can also cause high blood pressure, when electrolytes (including sodium) cannot be adequately secreted from the body.

Stroke is one of the diseases that is often linked to hypertension, either by contributing to the process of atherosclerosis (which can lead to blockages and/or clots), or by weakening the blood vessel wall and causing it to rupture.

What is your advice for people suffering from hypertension?

People should have a regular high blood pressure test. If you have hypertension, you should go for regular check–up, reduce salt, alcohol, and smoking. A person should maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy foods, eating less of foods that are high in saturated fat and cholesterol, such as fried foods, eating more whole grain products, fish, poultry, and nuts, eating less red meat and sweets, eating foods that are high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium and eating foods with less sodium.

Health facts on Hypertension

High blood pressure may be linked to dementia.
Recent studies show that high blood pressure is linked to a higher risk for dementia, a loss of cognitive function.2 Timing seems to matter: Some evidence suggests having uncontrolled high blood pressure during midlife (age 45 to 65) creates a higher risk for dementia later in life.3 The takeaway? It’s never too early to start thinking about your blood pressure and taking steps to manage it.
Young people can have high blood pressure, too.
High blood pressure doesn’t just happen to older adults. About one in four men and nearly one in five women age 35 to 44 has high blood pressure.
Younger people should get their blood pressure checked at least once each year. You can get your blood pressure checked at a doctor’s office, a pharmacy, or at many grocery stores.
High blood pressure usually doesn’t have any symptoms.
High blood pressure is sometimes called the “silent killer.” Most people with high blood pressure don’t have any symptoms, such as sweating or headaches. Because many people feel fine, they don’t think they need to get their blood pressure checked. Even if you feel normal, your health may be at risk. Talk to your doctor about your risk for high blood pressure.
Many people who have high blood pressure don’t know it.
Most people with uncontrolled blood pressure have health insurance and visit a health care provider at least twice a year, but the condition remains undiagnosed, hidden from the doctor and patient.5 CDC is working with providers to find patients with high blood pressure who are ” hiding in plain sight.” Ask your provider what your blood pressure numbers mean and whether they are too high. Stick to your treatment plan and follow your provider’s advice if you are diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Women and minorities face unique risks when it comes to high blood pressure.
Women with high blood pressure who become pregnant are more likely to have complications during pregnancy than those with normal blood pressure. High blood pressure can harm a mother’s kidneys and other organs, and it can cause low birth weight and early delivery. Certain types of birth control can also raise a woman’s risk for high blood pressure. Women with high blood pressure who want to become pregnant should work with their health care team to lower their blood pressure before becoming pregnant.

Credit: The Punch

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