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World Hypertension Day

World Hypertension Day

Raising awareness about high blood pressure
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World Hypertension Day is observed annually on 17 May to raise awareness about high blood pressure and to promote the prevention, detection and management thereof.

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is often referred to as a silent killer, since it typically does not have any obvious symptoms. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that almost half (46%) of adults with hypertension worldwide are unaware that they have the condition. An estimated 1,28 billion adults worldwide suffer from hypertension globally, while only one in five adults (21%) have it under control.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa, more than one in three adults live with high blood pressure. It is responsible for one in every two strokes and two in every five heart attacks.

Medihelp Medical Aid’s benefits for high blood pressure

Benefits for annual health screenings

  • One combo test (blood glucose, cholesterol, BMI and blood pressure) per beneficiary per year, available on all medical aid plans

Chronic illness benefits

  • Benefits for chronic medicine and services related to prescribed minimum benefits (PMB), available on all medical aid plans

Know your numbers

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and is recorded as two numbers – systolic (which measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats) and diastolic (measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats).

Blood pressure readings:

  • Normal: Less than 120 systolic and 80 diastolic
  • Elevated: 120 to 129 systolic and less than 80 diastolic
  • Stage 1 hypertension: 130 to 139 systolic or 80 to 89 diastolic
  • Stage 2 hypertension: At least 140 systolic or at least 90 diastolic
  • Hypertensive crisis: Higher than 180 systolic and/or higher than 120 diastolic

Risk factors and warning signs

Risk factors for high blood pressure include:

  • Being overweight
  • Consuming an unhealthy diet, including eating too much salt (recent studies also suggest that added sugars – especially sugars in processed form, such as fructose corn syrup found in soft drinks – may play an even bigger role than salt in raising blood pressure)
  • Not getting enough exercise
  • Consuming too much alcohol
  • Smoking
  • A family history of high blood pressure

Symptoms usually associated with a hypertensive crisis include:

  • Headaches
  • Nosebleeds
  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Seizures

Treatment and management

High blood pressure can be managed by making healthy lifestyle adjustments, such as:

  • Regular physical exercise
  • Eating a healthy diet rich in whole-grain and high-fibre foods
  • Reducing your salt and sugar intake
  • Moderating alcohol consumption
  • Quitting smoking

Specific medications are also available to treat hypertension. Visit your doctor regularly to see how changes in lifestyle and medication affect your blood pressure.

Tips when checking your blood pressure at home

  • Measure your blood pressure twice daily – the first in the morning and the second in the evening.
  • Take your blood pressure reading at the same time every day.
  • Avoid food, caffeine, tobacco and alcohol for 30 minutes before taking a measurement.
  • Rest for a few minutes and empty your bladder beforehand.
  • Keep your back straight and your feet on the floor.
  • Support arms on a flat surface and at the same height as your heart.
  • Place the cuff on bare skin, not over clothing.
  • Take another reading one to three minutes after the first reading to check accuracy.

Sources:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/150109
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410
https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hypertension
https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/1609008/high-blood-pressure-sugars-fructose-syrup
https://www.heartfoundation.co.za/blood-pressure/

 


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