Hypertension the silent Killer

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Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, but it can damage your heart and cause health problems if it stays high for a long time.Image Courtesy

Hypertension is the major cause of premature death worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO).estimates that 1.28 billion adults aged between 30-79 years worldwide have hypertension.

WHO said that 46% of adults with hypertension are unaware that they have this condition. Less than half of adults, 42 percent, with hypertension are diagnosed and treated. Approximately 1 in 5 adults, 21 percent, with hypertension has it under control.

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In 2019, more than half a million deaths in the United States were associated with hypertension as a primary or contributing cause.

In Kenya, the prevalence of hypertension is 24.5 percent with a quarter of the population aged between 18-69 years estimated to be hypertensive.

Hypertension is a condition in which the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high. It can also be defined as blood pressure above 140/90 and is considered severe if the pressure is above 180/120.Arteries carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body.

The main cause of hypertension includes a diet high in salt, fat, and/or cholesterol. Chronic conditions such as kidney and hormone problems, diabetes, and high cholesterol.

Family history may also be a cause, especially if your parents or other close relatives have high blood pressure.

Hypertension is called a `silent killer’. Most people with hypertension are unaware of the problem because it may have no warning signs or symptoms. This necessitates the need to measure blood pressure regularly.

The common symptoms of severe high blood pressure include severe headaches, difficulty breathing, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, fatigue, and vision problems.

There are two main types of high blood pressure: Primary high blood pressure which is the most common type of high blood pressure and Secondary high blood pressure-It is caused by another medical condition or the use of certain medicines.

The risk factors of hypertension include unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, consumption of tobacco and alcohol, and being overweight or obese.

Diagnosis of hypertension can be made by Ambulatory monitoring, lab tests-the doctor recommends a blood test or urine test, Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), and by use of an Echocardiogram.

The burden of hypertension can be reduced by: Reducing salt intake (to less than 5g daily), being physically active, reducing alcohol consumption, and eliminating the intake of foods high in saturated fats. It can be managed by regularly checking blood pressure and by treating high blood pressure.

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