It is World Hypertension Day and the theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Know Your Numbers’.

What numbers are being referred to here? The numbers are those on the blood pressure monitor or the sphygmomanometer. The upper number indicates your systolic blood pressure value while the bottom one is your diastolic blood pressure value. Normal adult blood pressure is defined as a blood pressure of 120 mm Hg when the heart beats (systolic) and a blood pressure of 80 mm Hg when the heart relaxes (diastolic). When systolic blood pressure is equal to or above 140 mm Hg and/or a diastolic blood pressure equal to or above 90 mm Hg the blood pressure is considered to be raised or high.

Hypertension is also known as elevated blood pressure. When the pressure of the blood vessels is high, the heart works harder to pump blood thus overworking the heart.  The blood vessels are stressed also. This is why hypertension is a major risk factor for heart related diseases. Hypertension can affect both the rich and the poor; educated and uneducated and there are a myriad of factors that lead to it. Those who are obese, diabetic, high cholesterol levels have higher risks of becoming hypertensive. It also leads to stroke and death.

Why do you need to know the numbers? This is because hypertension is a silent killer and the rate of hypertension along with other non-communicable diseases is rapidly increasing, in Nigeria and the world at large. Sometimes, headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, chest pain occur for some who have elevated blood pressure Otherwise there are no specific signs and symptoms at the early stage. This is why it is a silent killer.

Also, the burden of the diseases is high in terms of economic and social impact.

What is the way forward? Know your numbers and then take action.

Recommended actions to reduce chance of having High blood pressure include:

  1. Consume a healthy diet. A healthy diet that also involves reduction in salt intake to not more than a teaspoon per day, eating fruits and vegetables everyday (they are very low in sodium and high in potassium which helps create a balance), and reduction in consumption of saturated fats.
  2. limiting alcohol to one drink per day
  3. Engage in physical activity at least 30 minutes every day. Also maintain a normal healthy weight as weight impacts greatly on systolic blood pressure
  4. Manage stress. Identify your stressors and find a way to deal with them.

For those already on treatments for hypertension, adhere to your doctors’ prescriptions and improve your health and nutrition based on the advice of your doctors and nutritionists or dietitians. Do not mix up herbal remedies and the synthetic drugs to address it. With medical support and lifestyle change, you can live a healthy life.

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  1. Nice write up..
    However, how dangerous is it to have a blood pressure lower than 120/80 mmHg??
    My pressure usually reads 90/59 mmHg and initial my GP used to be worried but He isn’t anymore and he just advices I ensure I maintain a healthy lifestyle.
    I would love to know if I have any reason to be worried..

    • Thank you. Some people do have their blood pressure a little lower than 120/80mmHg and it is fine. If your GP is no longer worried and it still bothers you perhaps it would be good to get a second opinion from a specialist in the field.


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