The Fatal Effect of Blood Pressure: What You Need to Know
By Halima Abdulkadiri
Blood pressure is an essential physiological measurement that indicates the force exerted by the blood against the walls of the blood vessels. It consists of two values: systolic pressure (the higher number) and diastolic pressure (the lower number). While blood pressure is necessary for circulation and delivering oxygen and nutrients to various parts of the body, persistently high or low blood pressure can be dangerous.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a significant health concern. It puts added strain on the heart and blood vessels, increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure. Over time, hypertension can lead to the thickening and narrowing of the blood vessels, reducing blood flow to vital organs like the heart, brain, and kidneys. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can also cause damage to the arteries, leading to conditions like atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
On the other hand, low blood pressure, known as hypotension, can also pose risks. If the blood pressure drops too low, it can result in inadequate blood supply to organs and tissues, depriving them of oxygen and nutrients.This can lead to symptoms like dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting, fatigue, and even organ damage in severe cases.
Hypotension may be caused by underlying medical conditions, medications, dehydration, or hormonal imbalances.
It’s important to note that everyone’s blood pressure naturally fluctuates throughout the day, depending on factors such as physical activity, stress levels, and even time of day. However, persistently high or low blood pressure readings should be evaluated by a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and appropriate management.
Regular monitoring of blood pressure, leading a healthy lifestyle, and following medical advice are crucial for maintaining optimal blood pressure levels. Lifestyle modifications may include maintaining a balanced diet, exercising regularly, limiting salt intake, managing stress, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, and maintaining a healthy weight. In some cases, medication may be prescribed to control blood pressure and reduce associated risks.
As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to mark World Hypertension Day (WHD) today, recent figures suggest that more than 76.2 million Nigerians are living with hypertension and many more are expected to develop the disease, alongside its complications of stroke, kidney damage, heart attack, erectile dysfunction, and ultimately sudden death if the condition is not properly treated.
However, research has it that Blood pressure and stroke are closely interconnected. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is one of the major risk factors for stroke.
high blood pressure contributes to stroke by damaging blood vessels, promoting the formation of blood clots, and increasing the risk of hemorrhage. It is crucial to manage blood pressure effectively through lifestyle modifications, medication, and regular monitoring to reduce the risk of stroke and other cardiovascular complications. If you have concerns about your blood pressure, it is always advisable to consult a healthcare professional for guidance and appropriate treatment.
According to the Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF), the prevalence of hypertension is about 38.1 per cent. Indeed, 38.1 per cent of the estimated population of 200 million Nigerians shows that 76.2 million citizens are hypertensive.
Interestingly, it is indicated that more than 50 per cent of these hypertensive Nigerians are youths between the ages of 20 and 50 years. Furthermore, the monthly care cost of hypertension is ₦N15,964.76 ($44.35), according to the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA).
This means that not less than N1.22 trillion is spent monthly to care for 76.2 million Nigerians living with high blood pressure/hypertension.
Also, recent studies indicate that more young people are developing hypertension, which is supposed to be a disease of adulthood. A recent study in Britain revealed that young adults in generally good health make up the group most likely to be suffering from undiagnosed hypertension, which could be fatal as untreated hypertension is said to be deadly.
The shock report showed that younger males with hypertension are particularly likely to be undiagnosed. 66 per cent of males and 26 per cent of females aged 16 to 24 years, and 55 per cent of males and 44 per cent of females aged 25 to 34 years who had hypertension were undiagnosed, compared with 17 per cent of males and 21 per cent of females aged 75 years and over.
Celebrated every May 17, the theme for WHD 2023 is ‘Measure your blood pressure, Control it, Live Longer.’ It is a day dedicated to highlighting the importance of monitoring blood pressure and bringing global awareness to the one billion people living with high blood pressure worldwide.
If you have concerns about your blood pressure or its impact on your health, it is always recommended to consult with a qualified healthcare professional who can provide personalized advice and guidance.