Silent killer diseases are those diseases that produce minimum or no symptoms and are capable of causing death if not treated early enough. Diseases in this category are termed so due to the fact they tend not to show early signs and symptoms but they are already in your system.
There are mainly two silent killers lately in the health sector and they include; Diabetes and Hypertension. However, this article will focus on the later.
The Basics of Hypertension
First off, let us note that blood exerts some force on the vessels carrying the fluids and the force that one's blood exerts against the walls of the blood vessels is what is known as Blood Pressure. The blood pressure in one's body could be high or low or normal but it is better to always keep it normal as low blood pressure and high blood pressure poses serious threats to one's life.
More so, the resistance of the blood vessels together with the work rate of the heart are both determinants of the blood pressure in a particular body. Hypertension is otherwise known as High Blood Pressure. High blood pressure could simply be defined as a condition where the force of blood against the artery wall is excessive or too high.
It is worthy of note that hypertension is a primary risk factor for cardiovascular diseases ranging from stroke, aneurysm, heart attack etc. Therefore, keeping the blood pressure normal is very vital if we must avoid this deadly diseases and health problems. However, recall that the heart is the muscular pump that helps in the distribution of the blood to the various body parts.
The blood is being successful delivered to the body from the heart with the help of the arteries. Arteries are vessels (pipes) that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. This plays a major role in the blood pressure of every individual.
Oftentimes, what causes hypertension is usually not known and it also does not show signs or symptoms which is why it is classified as a silent killer. In rare and severe cases, it causes sweating, nosebleeds, shortness of breath and sleeping problems but these occurrences are usually not specific.
Howbeit, people with hypertension do not usually know they have it and this makes it even more dreadful. Hence, it is advised and recommended that we check our blood pressure regularly and frequently. Hypertension has some risk factors such as age, low potassium intake, gender, tobacco use etc.
MEASUREMENT OF BLOOD PRESSURE
The device for measuring blood pressure is called the Sphygmomanometer (or blood pressure monitor) which is calibrated in mmHg (millimeters mercury). During blood pressure reading, the top number (numerator) is known as the Systolic Blood Pressure; which is the pressure during the maximum contraction of the heart.
The bottom number (denominator) is the pressure known as Diastolic Blood Pressure and it is the pressure when the body is completely relaxed. Blood pressure reading is thus the ratio of the Systolic reading to the Diastolic reading.
Normal blood pressure is 120/80mmHg hence, when blood pressure gets to 140/90 mmHg, it is said that High blood pressure have occurred.
What You Should Note
- Do not take blood pressure immediately after drinking hot tea or alcohol.
- Do not take blood pressure during Micturition reflex that is, when the bladder is full and urinating is required.
- Do not take blood pressure while in an emotionally unstable state.
- Do not take blood pressure if the person has not relaxed up to 5 minutes
- Do not also take blood pressure immediately after smoking.
Note that: All these could give high blood pressure reading even when the person is not hypertensive
What Affects Blood Pressure?
- Cardiac Output
- Blood Volume
- Resistance the blood needs to pump against
Cardiac Output: This refers to the amount of blood the ventricle pushes out in each minute. It is also the amount of blood pumped out at each beat of the heart. If the Cardiac Output increases, blood pressure also increases. Hence, the cardiac output varies directly as the blood pressure.
Blood Volume: This refers to the total amount of blood in the body. If the blood volume increases, blood pressure increases. Blood volume also varies directly as blood pressure.
Resistance: Several factors contribute to this factor and they include;
Flexibility of Artery Wall: The flexibility of the artery wall affects the expansion of the artery and reduces pressure on the wall.
Diameter of the Artery: The body can reduce and also increase the diameter of the artery. When the diameter is reduced, the blood pressure is raised.
Blood Viscosity: This refers to the thickness of the blood. Substances like protein and fats when found in the blood, increases the thickness of the blood and reduces the rate blood is being moved out of the artery.
EFFECTS OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
It affects the walls of the arteries
The artery becomes weak and could form an enlargement called Aneurysm or the wall may burst and bleed into surrounding tissues.
High blood pressure could damage the artery and damage of the artery reduces blood flow
It could also lead to conditions such as Stroke, Kidney diseases (Kidney failure), Heart attack and Retinopathy etc.
TREATMENTS OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE
The treatment of high blood pressure has different approaches which will be discussed below.
(i) Lifestyle Changes is the standard first line treatment for hypertension.
(ii) Medication/Pharmacological approach: This is not really the best method of managing hypertension as prevention method is far better than the management or cure.
Lifestyle Changes and Modification
One's way of life is the basic, simplest and primary method or way of fighting hypertension. Lifestyle changes entail doing away with habits and things that could endanger your body system such that no room is being created for chronic diseases like hypertension. A good lifestyle and habit will help improve good health and sound living.
(i) Limit Salt Intake: Common salt contains Sodium (Na). Reduction of salt intake and spicy food reduces Sodium ions (Na+) in the body. Sodium ions (Na+) causes the body to retain more water which in turn increases blood volume and blood pressure.
(ii) Avoid Stress: Stress releases some hormones which increases the pressure of the blood. It also increases the rate of heartbeat thereby increasing pressure to the artery. It is highly recommended that one should try going on vacation, picnic, relaxation centers and the likes to reduce stress level. Do not work 24 hours round the clock as you are endangering your life.
(iii) Sleep: Lack of sleep hunts your body’s ability to regulate stress hormones thereby leading to high blood pressure. The body requires an average of 7-8 hours of sleep daily. No matter how busy you may be or irrespective of the loads of responsibilities you may be burdened with, always create time for sound sleep. Sleeping aids in regulating your body systems.
(iv) Food Monitoring: Dieting is also key to fighting hypertension and a healthy diet is an important factor for checking high blood pressure. The following should be noted:
Honey: It reduces the pressure of blood on the heart and has a calming effect on the artery. Two teaspoonful of honey early in the morning before eating is a very important technique in blood pressure management.
Food rich in Potassium (K) helps in removing and regulating the amount of Sodium in the body, thereby regulating blood volume and cardiac output. Examples of food containing Potassium include banana, cucumber, pumpkin, peas etc.
Garlic and onions are also very good for the body as both improves the flow of blood. It can be eaten raw, or cooked in food.
Medications exist for the treatment and management of hypertension. It should be noted that a person may require more than one medication method to tackle hypertension problems. All classes of hypertension medications are collectively referred to as anti-hypertensive medications and they include thiazide-diuretics, calcium channel blockers etc.
Hypertension is a very dangerous sickness that could lead to an eventual loss of life. What makes it even more dangerous is the fact that it does not show any sign or symptom. Owing to this, correct measures should be taken to avoid and prevent its occurrence, such as monitoring some food intake and lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle changes happen to be the best method for preventing hypertension. Do well to inculcate lifestyles that enhance and promote good health. But if lifestyle changes are not sufficient then blood pressure medications can be employed. Remember, YOUR HEALTH IS YOUR WEALTH.