Enyeribe Ejiogu ([email protected])
Like most medical conditions, hypertension can be managed effectively when it is diagnosed early. That is why healthcare practitioners always advice people to have a practice of visiting their doctors, even when they may not be showing any signs or symptoms of illness. Your family doctor would certainly not bill you for just coming in to have a chat with him/her about your general health. During that visit the nurses will also check, measure and record your vitals such as weight and blood pressure while the doctor would look at your tongue, etc. And if the doctor decides to take urine and blood samples for routine laboratory analysis that is also very good, because some major illnesses have been discovered through such impromptu medical check-up. The bottom line is: see your doctor regularly.
Now, hypertension or high blood pressure is principally diagnosed by taking a series of readings blood pressure readings and finding the average of the systolic and diastolic measurements. Please note that the upper number is called the systolic reading, which is the peak blood pressure when the heart pumps out blood while the bottom number is called the diastolic, which refers to pressure as blood fills the heart. The blood pressure is written as ‘systolic over diastolic’ and presented this way: 120 over 80 (120/80).
This may be repeated over the course of two or three days. Along with this, the doctor will take your medical history and ask questions about your lifestyle. Please note the summary below:
Normal blood pressure is less than 120 on top and less than 80 on the bottom.
Prehypertension levels are 120-139 on top and 80-89 on the bottom.
High blood pressure, stage 1 is 140-159 on top and 90-99 on the bottom.
High blood pressure, stage 2 is 160 or higher on top and 100 and over on the bottom.
Simple wisdom demands that the higher a person’s blood pressure is, the more often it needs to be checked.
Preventive measures and ways to cope
Oftentimes, lifestyle practices contribute to someone developing hypertension. In such situations where lifestyle factors play a major role, taking necessary steps can reduce the risk of life-threatening outcomes. You can do the following: lose weight, stop smoking, eat properly, exercise, substantially reduce salt intake, reduce alcohol consumption and learn relaxation methods.
It has been determined that some medications prescribed for other conditions can make the blood pressure rise. Bring this to the attention of the doctor, who would be able to prescribe a different medicine. Moreover, it is important to adequately treat or manage any underlying medical conditions such as diabetes. This would go a long way to support your efforts to reduce high blood pressure.
In a nutshell, making lifestyle modifications will reduce your blood pressure and also greatly reduce the risk of developing complications that can lead to heart disease, stroke and possibly sudden death.
More importantly, you must diligently follow the advice of your doctor and take the antihypertensive drugs he/she may prescribe for you.
The goal of treatment is to reduce blood pressure to normal levels. Treatment of hypertension has been shown over time to be successful. In situations where the blood pressure can only be controlled with medicine, that means that the drugs would have to be taken for life. Therefore, it is important to settle it in your mind that you cannot stop taking the prescribed medication or medications without first discussing with your doctor. Your sudden cessation of the medication without your doctor’s advice is quite dangerous as it would increase the risk of having a stroke or heart attack.
Living with high blood pressure
First, recognise that you can still live a full life, right up to old age, even though you have hypertension. Being diagnosed with hypertension is not in itself a death sentence. A lot people you meet every day have hypertension, but they don’t wear it on their faces or announce their condition. With the right steps, you will do very well and enjoy the rest of your life as a hypertensive person. Testimonies to this fact abound.
Controlling your high blood pressure is a lifelong commitment. You will always need to monitor your weight, eat healthy food, exercise, learn to cope with stress, avoid smoking as well as drastically reducing or even completely eliminating alcohol intake.
Taking regular blood pressure measurements is a “Class-A Priority Matter” that cannot be ignored. Today, it is possible to easily take blood pressure readings at home. Digital blood pressure meters can easily be bought any urban centre in Nigeria, either from pharmacy shops, malls or other medical equipment stores. They are affordable. However, if for whatever reason, you do not have or unable to own a personal digital blood pressure meter, please identify a nearby hospital where you can visit and the nurses will measure your blood pressure regularly. Keep a record of the measurements, and also record the date and time. The regular recorded readings will be very useful in guiding your doctor, as both of you work together to appropriately manage your condition. Your doctor may want you to check your blood pressure several times a day. Another option is to use an ambulatory blood pressure monitor, which is a kind that you can wear as you move about and engage in your daily activities.
A toast to your good health: beat hypertension and give it TKO for the sake of your family and your happiness.