The Need for Regular Blood Pressure Checkups: The Way to knowing, Preventing and Treating Hypertension

Affirmed by the American Heart Association (AHA), most people who have high blood pressure (hypertension) are symptom free. They only realise they have hypertension through a checkup.

Blood pressure checkups are not necessary everyday but doing so a few times within a year is helpful and safer for early detection and treatment if need be.

Blood Pressure (BP) is the pressure of circulating blood against the walls of blood vessels. It is typically articulated in terms of the maximum pressure during a heartbeat (thus systolic pressure) over the minimum pressure between two heartbeats (diastolic pressure). It is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg) above the surrounding atmospheric pressure.

BP is one of the fundamental things Health Care Providers (HCPs) check in assessing an individual’s health status. Readings greater than 140 over 90 on the blood pressure metre (Sphygmomanometer) have been said to require medical attention.

BP has been categorised into normal, elevated, hypertension stage 1, hypertension stage 2 and hypertensive crisis.

CAUSES

Though the exact causes of HBP are not known, research and data on hypertension in the country shows that hypertension can result from obesity, excessive alcohol intake, lack of exercise and poor diets.

Other causes have been said to include sedentary lifestyle, age, family history, smoking, diabetes, kidney problems, sleep apnea, thyroid or adrenal gland problems and birth control pills.

EFFECTS/COMPLICATIONS

HCPs have said that the effects of hypertension could be disastrous to one’s health especially when the disease is not detected early.

Research showed that untreated HBP could cause heart attacks, stroke, loss of sight, kidney problems, loss of memory and erectile dysfunction.

PREVALENCE

Hypertension is a global public health issue which contributes significantly to cardiovascular diseases, kidney failures, premature deaths and disabilities.

Recent evidence shows that between 1990 and 2015, there was an increase in hypertension incidence, prevalence and deaths globally. One hundred and eight million (108) American adults for instance have been estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have hypertension, with only a quarter of them having it under the control.

In Ghana, population-based studies have shown an increase in hypertension prevalence and its significant impact on stroke morbidity and mortality, over the last four decades.

Despite this, hypertension awareness, treatment and control are poor in the country as over 613, 633 cases of hypertension were recorded last year with about 28 to 40 per cent of adult Ghanaians estimated to have HBP.

This trend is disturbing because hypertension which is chronic and fatal can result in a number of serious ailments including kidney problems, vision loss, heart attacks, stroke and heart failure.

PREVENTION/WHY CHECK BP REGULARLY

Prevention they say, is better than cure. To be on the safer side and avert all the pains and struggles coupled with the cost involved in treating hypertension, it would be better for blood pressure checkups to be done regularly.

Health professionals have advised that people adopt healthy lifestyles, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, reduce salt intake, mange stress and eat well balanced diets.

It is worthy of note that we spend a little now to prevent spending more late. HBP can be very draining. As such, by keeping one’s BP under control, time wastage and excessive spending will be cut off.

EXPERTS OPINION

Just like Dr Ebenezer Amekah, Acting Medical Superintendent of the Apam CatholicHospital, the Acting Programme Manager, Non-CommunicableDiseases, (NCD), Dr Efua Commeh in a recent interview with the paper in Accraadvised the general populace to resort to healthy lifestyles at all times.

They both advised that people particularly those above 50 years go in for checkups regularly as HBP had no symptoms at the early stage.

Dr Amekah who spoke with JoyNews at the time in 2007 said HBP was often called the “silentkiller” because one could hardly get to know when the disease had begun its damaging effects.

He said long-term damage from uncontrolled hypertension was often irreversible and could lead to an early death, adding that early detection of the disease; good dieting and medication could control it.

Dr Amekah therefore urged Ghanaians to maintain a low-fat diet, decrease salt intake, shed extra weight to decrease strain on the heart and refrain from smoking and high alcoholic consumption to protect themselves from contracting the disease.

Dr Commeh noted that already diagnosed persons with the disease should ensure that they took their prescribed medicine regularly to control their BP and also consult their doctors if there were issues with their medicines.

She advised all to frequently go for check-ups for early detection of the disease,“you do not need to wait until the problem has gotten out of hand but whiles you are well we advise that you keep for checkups.”

BY ABIGAIL ARTHUR

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