High blood pressure or Hypertension, – nicknamed “the silent killer” and rightly so – can go unnoticed, and when left unchecked, can lead to other health conditions such as Arrhythmia, Heart attack, Stroke, Kidney disease or failure, Loss of vision, Sexual dysfunction and Peripheral artery disease is not only the elderly in the society but teens and young adults as well.
According to the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC 7), “half the adult population is prehypertensive or hypertensive,” and as a result of blood pressure increasing with age, you are likely going to get hypertension if you live long enough.
The dilemma the health care system is facing is the fact that there has been an increase in the number of high blood pressure cases among younger adults in our society. According to a study in the journal, Postgraduate Medicine, “Active individuals, like the young and athletes, are viewed as free of diseases such as hypertension”, however, with a spike in traditional risk factors such as obesity, Diabetics Mellitus and renal disease, the chances of developing high blood pressure among the younger generation grows.
What is HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE?
High blood pressure or hypertension, is when “the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels,” is consistently too high. The blood pressure is expressed as a pair, Systolic pressure when the blood is pumped from the heart to the arteries and Diastolic pressure when the heart rests between each beat.
JNC 7 guidelines categorize blood pressure as follows:
– Normal. Less than 120/80
– Elevated. 120-129/ below 80
– Hypertension. 130-139/80-89
– Stage 2 hypertension. 140 and above/90 and above
There are many risk factors to consider while determining the cause of hypertension. Factors such as age, family history, weight, physical activity level, smoking, high sodium diet, excessive alcohol consumption and stress or an underlying health issue, can contribute to increasing the blood pressure of an individual.
Often, there aren’t any signs or symptoms of hypertension – probably why it is named “the silent killer,” but patients have reported headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds. Most times, these symptoms only surface when the patient’s condition is already critical.
The best way to know your blood pressure is to get it checked by a health care practitioner, and because of the rise in cases of hypertension, most pharmacist’s and doctor’s meeting usually begins with a blood pressure checks when attending to patients.