As part of World Hypertension Day, Life Healthcare is encouraging South Africans to get tested and know their blood pressure, cholesterol and blood glucose numbers in order to prevent and control rising blood pressure.
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is the main risk for cardiovascular diseases, which is responsible for 10 million deaths every year around the world.
According to statistics South Africa has one of the highest rates of hypertension worldwide, with about 130 heart attacks and 240 strokes occurring daily. This means that 10 people will suffer a stroke and five people will have a heart attack every hour.
While the life-style disease is a very common, it often goes undiagnosed and if left undetected it could lead to congestive heart failure, stroke, kidney disease, and vision loss.
“While there may not be any symptoms, that doesn’t mean there’s no cause for concern,” said Cardiologist and Cardiac Electrophysiologist at Life Vincent Pallotti Hospital, Dr Vinod Thomas. “And if you are not consistent in ensuring that your blood pressure is under control, you put yourself at increased risk of life threatening conditions.”
Fortunately, high blood pressure can be easily detected by determining the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.
If you are found to be pre-hypertensive or hypertensive, you need to consult your doctor to control it. Depending on your results, your doctor may prescribe medication to help control your blood pressure.
It’s important to note that you will have to keep taking this medication.
“Many patients stop taking their treatment when their blood pressure improves, but it only gets better because of this medication – you have to stay on your treatment regimen,” said Dr Thomas.
Along with medication, high blood pressure can be effectively controlled by lifestyle changes that can lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of health complications.
“Ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every two years, starting at age 18. If you’re younger with a high risk of high blood pressure, or older than 40, measure it at least once yearly,” concluded Dr Thomas.