Be Good To Your Heart
Being diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension) may come as a bit of a shock. According to The South African Heart and Stroke Foundation, high blood pressure is known as the ‘silent killer’ because about 50% of people living with high blood pressure have no obvious symptoms and generally feel well. High blood pressure is when the force of blood against the walls of your larger blood vessels is too high. High blood pressure puts both men and women at risk for serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke and kidney failure. More than one in three South African adults has high blood pressure and it causes one in every two strokes and two in every five heart attacks.
You might be asking yourself, “how do I know if I am at risk of having high blood pressure” Your blood pressure reading is based on two measures. The top number (systolic blood pressure) is the measure of the pressure when your heart contracts and pushes blood through the arteries. The bottom number (diastolic blood pressure) is the measure of the pressure when your heart relaxes between beats. For a reading to be considered as “normal”, your blood pressure should be less than 130/80mmHg.
In some cases, people with extremely high blood pressure may experience symptoms, including headaches, nose bleeds, nausea, changes in vision and sleepiness.
If you have recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may feel afraid, overwhelmed, confused or even frustrated, but these are normal responses. Keep in mind that a diagnosis of high blood pressure doesn’t mean your doctor is telling you that you’re stressed. Yes, stress can cause or contribute to high blood pressure, but there is also usually another underlying reason for high blood pressure, such as diet, lack of exercise and being overweight.
Children are also prone to being diagnosed with high blood pressure. According to the Children’s Institute at the University of Cape Town, approximately 18% of children aged 15 – 17 years in South Africa are found to be overweight or obese. “A lot of the same things that cause hypertension in adults can cause it in children” said Dr. Andrew Tran, director of preventive cardiology at the Heart Centre at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. As with adults, children can lower their risk by changing their lifestyle and becoming more active, eating more fruits and vegetables and reducing sodium.”
Lower your risk of hypertension by reducing the amount of salt you eat daily and cut down on the amount of processed food you eat. Also consider these lifestyle changes: stop smoking and vaping, cut down on alcohol, lose weight and start exercising – it makes a huge difference.