‘Hypertension  education must be given urgent attention’

A Specialist Family Physician, Dr Mrs Lenusia Ahlijah, has advised every adult, especially those above the age of 35 to check their blood pressure at least once a year.

“If you happen to have a family history of hypertension, then it is advisable to check your blood pressure more frequently,” she said.

Dr Ahlijah in an interview with the Ghanaian Times on Sunday here raised concerns that issues of blood pressure was not being given the urgent attention it deserved, and more dangerously there were people who did not even know that they had the disease because they do not check their blood pressure. 

“Blood pressure is simply the force of blood pushing against the walls of a person’s blood vessels (arteries). When that pressure was too high, the condition is called hypertension, “she said.

She said it was a condition that showed up as a person grew older and was dangerous because it made the heart work harder to pump blood around the body and damaged the arteries.

“This results in conditions such as heart attack, stroke and kidney failure,” she said.

Dr Ahlijah said even though the exact cause of hypertension was not known, there were several factors and conditions that might play a role in its development. 

She mentioned ageing, genetics, chronic kidney disorders, alcohol consumption and smoking.

Other factors she said included stress, family history of hypertension, too much salt in diet and lack of physical exercise resulting in obesity.

The Specialist Family Physician said some of the symptoms were severe headache, fatigue or confusion, blood in urine, irregular heartbeat, difficulty in breathing,  chest pains and vision problems. 

She said persons who were at risk of developing hypertension were people who smoked, pregnant women, women on oral contraceptives, people about 35 years and above and people with sedentary lifestyle. 

Others included people with family members who had hypertension, people of black descent, those who ate too much fatty foods and alcohol drinkers.

Dr Ahlijah said weight reduction, smoking cessation, decreasing stress, restriction of salt and fat intake and increase in aerobic activities could manage the disease. 

She said drug therapy was added when lifestyle modification alone was not helping. 

She advised adherence to treatment was important in order to avoid the complications of uncontrollable hypertension. 

“It may be suicidal to stop taking your antihypertensive medications without discussing with your doctor,” she cautioned.

FROM DZIFA TETTEH TAY, TEMA

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