Hypertension- The Silent Killer

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My final year project was on, The effects of Onion, Leek, and Ginger on Atherosclerosis” and I got to understand the effects of high blood pressure on the well-being of humans. Because of diet, lifestyle, and other factors, hypertension and strokes have become quite common.

Then it was something that old men had in their 60s or maybe in their 50s; now, unfortunately, we’re seeing it more prevalent in men in their 30s and 40s and sometimes in their 20s due to the consumption of energy drinks, and in more cases with women.

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are on the rise in Nigeria, with heart failure, cardiomyopathies, rheumatic heart disease, and coronary artery disease being the most prevalent.

According to the President of the Nigerian Cardiac Society, about a third of Nigerian adults are living with high blood pressure, and this can go up to 40% in some parts of Nigeria. Hypertension is the main risk factor for CVD.

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, can be caused by a variety of factors, including:

Genetics: High blood pressure can be inherited from parents or other family members. There may be certain genetic factors that increase the risk of developing hypertension.

Lifestyle factors: Unhealthy habits like a sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, and a diet high in salt, saturated fats, and processed foods can increase the risk of hypertension.

Obesity: Being overweight or obese can put extra strain on the heart and blood vessels, leading to high blood pressure.

Age: Blood pressure tends to increase with age as arteries become stiffer and less elastic.

Stress: Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure by increasing the heart rate and constricting blood vessels.

Chronic conditions: Certain chronic conditions such as kidney disease, diabetes, and sleep apnea can contribute to high blood pressure.

Medications: Certain medications, such as birth control pills, decongestants, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can raise blood pressure.

To avoid hypertension (high blood pressure), it’s important to adopt healthy lifestyle habits. Here are some of the best habits to help prevent or manage hypertension:

Maintain a Healthy Weight: Excess weight puts strain on the heart and increases the risk of high blood pressure. Aim for a healthy body weight by following a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity.

Follow a Balanced Diet: Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products. Reduce your intake of saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium (salt), and added sugars. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet is particularly recommended for lowering blood pressure.

Limit Sodium Intake: Excess sodium can contribute to high blood pressure. Limit your consumption of processed and packaged foods, as they often contain high amounts of sodium. Opt for fresh, whole foods, and season meals with herbs and spices instead of salt.

Exercise regularly: Engage in moderate aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, swimming, or cycling, for at least 150 minutes per week. Regular physical activity helps to lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and maintain a healthy weight.

Limit Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption can raise blood pressure. Men should limit themselves to two standard drinks per day, and women should have no more than one standard drink per day.

Quit smoking. Smoking damages blood vessels and increases the risk of hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. Quitting smoking has numerous health benefits, including reducing blood pressure.

Manage stress: Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure. Find healthy ways to manage stress, such as practising relaxation techniques, engaging in hobbies, spending time with loved ones, or seeking professional help if needed.

Get Sufficient Sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. Poor sleep or sleep deprivation can contribute to hypertension. Establish a regular sleep routine and create a comfortable sleeping environment.

Limit Caffeine Intake: While the relationship between caffeine and blood pressure is not fully understood, it is advisable to limit caffeine consumption, especially if you are sensitive to its effects.

Monitor Your Blood Pressure: Regularly check your blood pressure and keep track of the readings. This will help you identify any changes and take appropriate action.

Remember to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice on managing and preventing hypertension, especially if you have existing medical conditions or are taking medications.

As for the results of my project, it was positive that a diet rich in onions and garlic can help bring down blood pressure, and that’s something to think about as another one of the solutions to hypertension.

High blood pressure is often called the silent killer because Most of the time, hypertension has no obvious symptoms to indicate that something is wrong. The best ways to protect yourself are by being aware of the risks and making changes that matter.

Most pharmacies have a blood pressure monitor machine that you can use for free; most hospitals check your blood pressure as part of their routine; and portable blood pressure machines are becoming more commonplace and affordable.

OVIGHO RICHARD OKOJEVOH-CIEH.SMC.PMP. is a Scrum Master Certified, Project Management & HSE Professional, and the Executive Secretary of the Society for Health, Safety, and Environmental Education