Your Lifestyle and Hypertension – Part 1

Hypertension is a long term medical condition which is characterized by a persistent increase in the blood pressure in our arteries. This is why it is also called High Blood Pressure (HBP). We may have come across it in several literature being referred to as a silent killer! Yes. It sure is one. Nobody wants to reach the end of the time of life, at least not at an age when much work is still left undone, words left unsaid, and special people left unloved. More than 50% of those with hypertension do not know that they have it!

Here are some epidemiological facts to serve as an eye-opener.
Hypertension is generally of two types. A primary and, of course, a secondary type. The primary type is caused by non-specific factors involving one’s lifestyle or genetic predisposition. These factors include, but are not limited to: smoking, obesity, high salt intake, sedentary lifestyle, etc. It accounts for over 95% of the total hypertensive individuals. The remaining 5% or thereabout have the secondary type, which is due to or secondary to known pre-existing causes such as: chronic kidney disease, hormonal abnormalities, use of birth control pills, pregnancy, coarctation of the aorta, and stenosis of one or both renal arteries.

Fortunately, hypertension is one of those medical conditions which are readily preventable if proper preventive techniques and management strategies are well utilized.

Hypertension if left unchecked, could cause any of the following:
1. Coronary artery disorder; a diseased of the blood vessels that supply the heart itself with nutrients and blood
2. Heart failure
3. Stroke
4. Blindness
5. Chronic Kidney Disease
6. Peripheral Vascular Disease
7. Multiorgan Failure
8. Death


Why must I examine my lifestyle?
I would start with those who love salt so much that we even salt our soft drinks, drinking water and bathing water. I would have to bring our minds back to the Ebola virus outbreak in Nigeria some years ago where different sacrilegious ideas came up from nowhere advising people to chew kolanut with salt water and to have their bath with salt water. We know that many people supposedly died of this act than from the disease outbreak itself.

The normal and most striking attribute of salt in the body system is to pull along with it as much water as it can. Hence, engorging the blood vessels and making them overloaded with fluid. The heart in response to this starts to overwork itself so as to compensate for the unnecessary increase in volume it has to pump per cycle. Before you know what is happening, the heart begins to fail until it eventually gives way to stress.

Next is smoking. Smoking grossly increases the chance of getting down with hypertension in the long run. Its close relative, Alcohol is also a major stakeholder in the world of lifestyle diseases. Hypertension gotten via one of these is not good let alone combining both alcohol and smoking. I can imagine the great wall of Jericho falling flat once more.

Worthy of mention also is lack of/ poor exercise, which virtually everyone is a culprit. The standard approach to this is, having at least 30 minutes of exercise each day for at least 3 days a week. Exercise helps your heart improve in its function and enables it cope with increased workload, increasing your heartbeat and blood flow. These and many more are the wonderful effects of exercise on your body.

There is a serious relationship between hypertension and obesity. Obese individuals usually have impaired carbohydrate, protein and lipid metabolisms. As such, they usually have a strong tendency to have Diabetes Mellitus and under-utilized high level of glucose in the blood is just as harmful as salt in the blood. Bad lipids are often times deposited on the walls of their arteries thereby reducing their diameters and restricting the flow of blood in it. This is one of the causes of hypertension in the obese—increased peripheral resistance of the blood vessels.

Lastly, on this episode of your Health column, it would suffice to say that what we see is what you eat. Much need not be said about this. Eat well, eat smart and eat right!

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