Globally, it is estimated that approximately 7.5 million people die annually from complications due to high blood pressure (also known as hypertension). The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa estimates that more than one in every three South African adults is currently living with hypertension, a condition that is responsible for as much as 50% of reported strokes and 40% of heart attacks.
The biggest challenge in overcoming this is that many people are unaware that they have the condition. Hypertension very rarely presents any symptoms in its early stages, until a severe medical crisis takes place like a heart attack, stroke, or chronic kidney disease. This is why more individuals should be encouraged to make a habit of testing their blood pressure with their doctor or at the pharmacy.
In light of World Hypertension Day, recognised on 17 May 2018, Douglas Craythorne, Cipla spokesperson for Cardiovascular, urges all adults to have their blood pressure checked regularly, and to consult a medical doctor when they suspect that they may suffer from, or potentially be at risk of developing high blood pressure.
Patients are considered to have hypertension when their blood pressure exceeds 140 over 90. Raised blood pressure is a major risk factor for chronic heart disease, stroke, and coronary heart disease.
Although the majority of patients with hypertension remain asymptomatic, individuals should also consider getting themselves tested for high blood pressure if they experience regular headaches, light-headedness, vertigo, altered vision, or fainting episodes.
Once a doctor has made a diagnosis of hypertension, patients need to start tracking their blood pressure levels on a regular basis. There are also a number of lifestyle changes that a doctor may recommend for hypertension sufferers. It is equally important that patients who are prescribed medication to treat their hypertension, do not cease using their medication without consulting their doctors.
Hypertension is a growing risk for many South Africans, and, while it is good to follow a healthy lifestyle and adopt the right diet, the only way to be sure of your blood pressure status is to have your blood pressure measured at least once a year.