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Health News of Thursday, 14 May 2015

Source: Dr Essel

Know your blood pressure, it could save your life

17th May is World Hypertension Day and please do not panic. This is not a stress-filled day that aims at increasing your blood pressure but rather it’s a day set aside to increase awareness of a serial yet silent killer. That is exactly what Hypertension it; its killing the young and old at an alarming rate yet in most instances people with high blood pressure may feel absolutely well.
From 2013 to 2018 the general theme is “know your numbers” and it aims at increasing high blood pressure awareness in all populations around the world. The specific theme for this year is “KNOW YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE” and I daresay we should in addition;
• understand our blood pressure readings and
• lower our numbers where required
Global statistics show that only 50% of those with hypertension are actually aware and that awareness in some areas may be as low as 10% while awareness may exceed 75% in a few areas. The bitter truth is some people do not have enough information about the condition, a significant number do not have easy access to measuring their blood pressure and a few stubborn ones think it’s better not to know if something is going wrong.
What do we need to understand about our blood pressure numbers? There are ALWAYS two numbers in a blood pressure reading such as 120/80mmHg. The top figure represents the force of the blood against the artery (blood vessel) walls as your heart beats and the lower value represents the force on the walls in between beats or while the heart rests. Both numbers are important.
Essentially when your blood pressure is higher than it should normally be all organs in the body are exposed to elevated pressures since arteries supply blood to every part of the body. These sustained high pressures will be causing harm gradually every minute of the day.
A few of the problems that such sustained elevated blood pressure will cause are;
• Heart Disease; this includes heart failure since the heart literally fatigues from working beyond its capacity indefinitely.
• Kidney Disease; the blood vessels of the kidney are damaged so the kidney is unable to excrete waste properly
• Stroke ; where sustained high pressures leads to rupture/damage of vessels in the brain
• Atherosclerosis; here buildup of fatty material or plaque in the lumen of blood vessels is worsened by high blood pressure by putting additional stress and force on the artery walls.
• Eye Disease; small vessels of the retina may be damaged leading to impairment of our vision
• Erectile Dysfunction; there are small blood vessels that feed the penis and getting adequate blood through them will ensure we have an erection and sustain it. A combination of elevated blood pressure and atherosclerosis can damage the vessels to the extent that blood flow is impaired causing impotence. Unfortunately many of us wrongfully believe that it’s only the medicines that lower blood pressure, which may cause impotence. Talk to a doctor today.
Prevention of high blood pressure is based mainly on adopting the appropriate lifestyle, while having regular medical check-ups to pick up conditions that can may lead to hypertension if not tackled early. Management of hypertension on the other hand requires a three-pronged attack in most situations;
• Lifestyle modifications
• Regular medical checks to pick up other conditions that be worsen our hypertension or general wellbeing
• Use of appropriate physician prescribed medication
Age and our genes may have a way of increasing our blood pressure or predisposing us to hypertension, but since we have no control over the choice of our family and years rolling by, it may be worth focusing on the above three that we can control to a large extent.
Lifestyle Modification
• Exercise adequately
• Do not smoke
• Limit or avoid alcohol
• Aim at Fat (weight) loss
• Manage stress appropriately
• If you have sleep apnoea (intermittent snoring during sleep and feeling tired and sleepy on waking up) seek medical intervention
• Adopt the DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) diet; low sodium (salt), increased potassium from fruits and vegetables, low or no saturated fats and increased fibre.
• Control conditions such as diabetes, cholesterol challenges and kidney disease.
Exercise need not be rushing to the gym to sweat out only, but taking walks, gardening, cleaning your home, using the stairs and many others. Exercise increases heart function and lowers blood pressure but there is a little hitch: the benefits of exercise on blood pressure do not last beyond 72 hours. In short frequency is the watch word. Do not be a once a week or once a month exercise fan. The effect of exercise on the heart does not rely on past glory so if you were an athlete years ago but you have now become one with your sofa, I am sorry to disappoint you but you need to get moving NOW!
All types of exercises will benefit you and lower your blood pressure but a word of caution here;
• When your blood pressure is not controlled DO NOT lift weights above your head
• Do not overdo exercises of the upper body but lower body exercises such s squatting will enhance lowering of your blood pressure.
• Breathe properly especially while you train with weights; breathe out during the exertion phase as you lift a weight and breathe in while you relax.
• Of course brisk walking, swimming, use of the treadmill and other exercises that target heart function are also a must
When all is said and done, you can never know our blood pressure without measuring or checking it. Take a few minutes to check your blood pressure and ensure at least one other person checks their blood pressure before the end of the month.
Associations, companies and all identifiable groups should ensure they check their blood pressure and go an extra mile and as a corporate social responsibility help to check the blood pressure of hundreds or even thousands of people. You will be saving lives.
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)
Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Moms’ Health Club/Health Essentials
(dressel@healthclubsgh.com)


*Dr Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.
Thought for the week - Join me on 23rd May to walk from Ayi Mensah Police Station to Peduase Basic Methodist School from 6.30am and check your blood pressure as well.
On Monday 25th May join me to walk from 6.30am from Jubilee House in Adum, Kumasi and once again take the opportunity to check your blood pressure.
We can win this battle against hypertension!!

References:
• www.webmd.com; Hypertension
• www.worldhypertensionleague.org

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