Hypertension (HTN) or high blood pressure, sometimes called arterial hypertension, is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated.
This requires the heart to work harder than normal to circulate blood through the blood vessels. Blood pressure is summarised by two measurements, systolic and diastolic, which depend on whether the heart muscle is contracting (systole) or relaxed between beats (diastole) and equate to a maximum and minimum pressure, respectively.
There are two types of hypertension: essential and secondary hypertension. The essential hypertension is the commonest and 95% of hypertensive people have essential hypertension.
Hypertension is diagnosed on the basis of a persistent high blood pressure. Traditionally, this requires three separate sphygmomanometer measurements at one monthly interval.
Normal blood pressure is below 120/80 mmhg, blood pressure between 120/80 and 139/89 mmhg is called pre hypertension, and blood pressure 140/90mmhg and above is high blood pressure.
Most people do not have symptoms if the blood pressure is high, it’s usually silent, and that is why it’s referred to as the ‘silent killer’. It may be present for many years unnoticed, however some people have some symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, shortness of breath. High blood pressure can lead to complications such as stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, blindness.
Some factors that increase the risk of developing hypertension include: high salt diet, familial/hereditary factor, ethnicity (blacks), obesity, lack of physical activity and exercise and kidney failure.
It is advised you check your blood pressure regularly at least once every 2 years for adults 18 years and older. And yearly if your blood pressure is between 120/80 to 139/89. And check your blood pressure every time you visit or have an appointment with your healthcare provider.