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31 May 2020 

Hypertension a silent threat


Issue 6 - April 2013
According to WHO one in three adults worldwide has hypertension, a condition which causes half of all deaths from stroke and heart diseases. In 2004, this disease was responsible for 7.5 million deaths worldwide amounting to almost 13% of all global deaths. Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a chronic medical condition in which the force of blood pushing up against the blood vessel walls elevates. This requires the heart to work harder than normal to circulate blood through the blood vessels. Uncontrolled hypertension can damage many organs and increases the risk of complications such as heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, blindness, irregularities of the heartbeat and heart failure. 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). Normal blood pressure in adults is within the range of 100-140mmHg systolic (top reading) and 60-90mmHg diastolic (bottom reading). High blood pressure is said to be present if it is persistently at or above 140/90 mmHg. Most people suffering from high blood pressure may not even know it and this is why it is also called the “silent killer”. Hypertension usually does not have any symptoms and the only way to know if one’s blood pressure is high or not is to measure it routinely. Very rarely some symptoms may show such as persistent headache, blurred or double vision, nose bleeds and shortness of breath. There are two types of high blood pressure: primary (essential) hypertension and secondary hypertension. The main cause of primary hypertension is still unknown and it gradually develops through years and consists of 90% of hypertension cases worldwide. Secondary hypertension which appears suddenly is the consequence of an underlying disease or condition like kidney problems, adrenal gland tumours and some medications like birth control pills. Although primary hypertension is mostly hereditary, it can be prevented or postponed by reducing the risk factors which trigger or speed up its development. Reducing salt intake, avoiding harmful use of alcohol and tobacco, following a balanced diet, performing regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy body weight and most important of all, reducing stress, are the main ingredients of maintaining a healthy blood pressure. To mark 2013 ‘World Health Day’, WHO has chosen Hypertension as its theme in order to reduce heart attacks and strokes by raising awareness of the causes and consequences of high blood pressure and to encourage people to change behaviours that can lead to hypertension. People are also asked to have their blood pressure checked regularly. WHO has also recognised the need to pressure national and local authorities to create enabling environments for health activities to increase the number of health facilities offering blood pressure checks. The World Health Day campaign aims to engage all of society; from policy makers and politicians to older people and youth with the aim of helping everyone lead a healthier and more fulfilling life style. • ... read more