The need for regular blood pressure checkups: The way to knowing, preventing and treating hypertension
As affirmed by the American Heart Association (AHA), most people who have high blood pressure (hypertension) are symptom-free. They only realise they have hypertension through a checkup.
It is not needed to check one’s pressure every day but checking it a few times within a year is helpful and safer for early detection and treatment if need be.
Blood Pressure (BP) is the pressure of circulating blood against the walls of blood vessels. It is typically articulated in terms of the maximum pressure during a heartbeat (thus systolic pressure) over the minimum pressure between two heartbeats (diastolic pressure). It is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) above the surrounding atmospheric pressure.
BP is one of the fundamental things Health Care Providers (HCPs) check-in assessing an individual’s health status. Readings greater than 140 over 90 on the blood pressure metre (Sphygmomanometer) have been said to require medical attention.
Though the exact causes of HBP are not known, research and data on hypertension in the country show that hypertension can result from obesity, excessive alcohol intake, lack of exercise and poor diets.
Other causes have been said to include sedentary lifestyle, age, family history, smoking, diabetes, kidney problems, sleep apnoea, thyroid or adrenal gland problems and birth control pills.
HCPs have said that the effects of hypertension could be disastrous to one’s health especially when the disease is not detected early.
Research showed that untreated high blood pressure could cause heart attacks, stroke, loss of sight, kidney problems, loss of memory and erectile dysfunction.
Hypertension is a global public health issue which contributes significantly to cardiovascular diseases, kidney failures, premature deaths and disabilities.
Recent evidence shows that between 1990 and 2015, there was an increase in hypertension incidence, prevalence and deaths globally. One hundred and eight million (108) American adults for instance have been estimated by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to have hypertension, with only a quarter of them having it under control.
In Ghana, population-based studies have shown an increase in hypertension prevalence and its significant impact on stroke morbidity and mortality, over the last four decades.
Despite this, hypertension awareness, treatment and control are poor in the country as over 613, 633 cases of hypertension were recorded last year with about 28 to 40 per cent of adult Ghanaians estimated to have HBP.
This trend is disturbing because hypertension which is chronic and fatal can result in a number of serious ailments including kidney problems, vision loss, heart attacks, stroke and heart failure.
PREVENTION/WHY CHECK BP REGULARLY
Prevention they say, is better than cure. To be on the safer side and avert all the pains and struggles coupled with the cost involved in treating hypertension, it would be better for blood pressure checkups to be done regularly.
Health professionals have advised that people adopt healthy lifestyles, maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, reduce salt intake, manage stress and eat well-balanced diets.
It is worth of note that we spend a little now to prevent spending more late. High blood pressure is said to cost countries billions each year. As such, by keeping one’s BP under control, time wastage and excessive spending will be cut off.
Just like Dr Ebenezer Amekah, Acting Medical Superintendent of the Apam Catholic Hospital who in 2007, the Acting Programme Manager, Non-Communicable Diseases, (NCD), Dr Efua Commeh in a recent interview with the paper in Accra advised the general populace to resort to healthy lifestyles at all times.
They both advised that people particularly those above 50 years go in for checkups regularly as HBP has no symptoms at the early stage.
Dr Amekah who spoke with JoyNews at the time said HBP was often called the “silent killer” because one could get to know when the disease had begun its damaging effects.
He said long-term damage from uncontrolled hypertension was often irreversible and could lead to an early death, adding that early detection of the disease; good dieting and medication could control it.
Dr Amekah, therefore, urged Ghanaians to maintain a low-fat diet, decrease salt intake, shed extra weight to decrease strain on the heart and refrain from smoking and high alcoholic consumption to protect themselves from contracting the disease.
For her part, Dr Commeh noted that already diagnosed persons with the disease should ensure that they take their prescribed medicine regularly to control their BP and also consult their doctors if there are issues with their medicines.
Likewise, she advised frequent check-ups for early detection of the disease, “you do not need to wait until the problem has gotten out of hand but whiles you are well we advise that you keep for checkups.”