Health Volume No. 19

TOPIC: HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE (HYPERTENSION):

Mrs. Elizabeth Ishola, Chief Matron, Bowen University, Iwo, Nigeria.


Blood pressure is used to describe the force with which the blood flowing in the body presses against the walls of the main vessel that carry blood away from the heart. The pressure the heart has to use to push the blood out of the heart is called the systolic blood pressure, while the pressure the main blood vessel (aota) uses to propel the blood forward is called the diastolic blood pressure. Therefore blood pressure itself is not a disease but since the need for blood changes from minute to minute, the demand on the blood pressure vary from time to time. Normal B/P is 110/70 or 130/80.
High Blood Pressure has been defined as a persistent elevation of the systolic and diastolic blood pressure above 140/90. There are two major types of high blood pressure, namely, primary high blood pressure and secondary high blood pressure.


Primary high blood pressure is also known as the essential hypertension. It constitutes 90% of all the cases of high blood pressure and the cause is unknown. It could begin with gradual onset and prolonged course or it could be malignant with sudden onset which could be fatal unless treated.
Secondary high blood pressure develops as a result of other primary diseases like heart diseases, kidney problems and hormonal disorders.
High blood pressure can be a sign of a disease, a risk factor for some diseases and a disease by itself. It is the principal risk factor for stroke, heart diseases and heart attack. Stroke and heart attack are common complications of high blood pressure because of many undiagnosed or diagnosed people do not receive adequate treatment while some of them cease to take their drugs.


CAUSES OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
1. Hereditary -High blood pressure may run in some families and nothing can be done to change the genes.
2. Kidney problems
3. Heart diseases
4. Hormonal abnormalities
5. Pregnancy
6. Birth control pills



SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
High blood pressure is sometimes called ‘ the silent killer ‘ because people who have it are often symptom – free, until damage to other parts of the body has occurred. If the blood pressure is too high, symptoms may include:
• Headaches
• Nose bleeds
• Dizziness
• Visual disturbances
• Breathlessness
• Vomiting


PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

This is possible by knowing the risk factors of high blood pressure. Such risk factors include: hereditary, abnormal blood fats level (high blood cholesterol), obesity ( over weight ), diabetes mellitus, metabolic disorders, sedentary lifestyle (lack of activity), race ( common in black race ), high intake of salt and high level of stress.


The control of high blood pressure includes the following:
 Regular follow – up care ( check blood pressure regularly )
 Undergo weight loss measures ( especially if patient is obese )
 Reduce salt intake / fat intake
 Regular physical exercise but avoid exertion ( i. e avoid too strenuous exercise )
 Reduce the level of stress ( avoid too much tension or stress )
 Use of medications (drugs) as ordered by the doctor.