Dr. Fabong Yildam, a specialist in family medicine at the Plateau State Specialist Hospital, says that high blood pressure kills quickly and silently because it has no specific symptoms.
Yildam told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Jos that the ailment had remained a major cause of death of people from 25 years and above, because people in that age bracket hardly know they were hypertensive.
“Most people are hypertensive; it affects one in every three adults. The unfortunate thing is that if it is not detected early, or if left untreated, it can cause heart attack, brain damage, stroke or death,” he said.
According to him, high blood pressure occurs when the force of blood pumping through the blood vessel is higher than it should be.
He said that the blood pressure was measured in two numbers, with the higher number called “Systolic Pressure,” referring to the force of blood that pushes against the blood vessels’ walls when the heart beats.
The lower number, he said, is called the “Diastolic Blood Pressure” and that refers to the pressure in the blood vessels between heart beats (when the heart is at rest).
“When an individual’s ‘Systolic Pressure’ is 80 to 120, it means the individual’s blood pressure is normal.
“If the Systolic Pressure’ is between 120 and 139, the individual is said to be pre-hypertensive.
“However, if the individual’s pressure is higher than 140, the individual is said to be hypertensive,” he explained.
He disclosed that apart from malaria, hypertension and diabetes were the leading cause of deaths and blindness in the tropics.
Yildam said that a research conducted in 2012, showed that 50 million Nigerian were hypertensive.
“The risk of being hypertensive is increased by smoking, high alcohol intake, stress, anxiety, high salt diets and fat, lack or inadequate exercise and processed food.
“Excessive alcohol intake can raise the blood pressure; smoking increases the chance of a heart attack or stroke.”
He advised people to reduce their salt intake because “salt makes the body to retain more fluid which makes the heart work harder.”
The medical practitioner said that “hypertension cannot be cured but can be managed by the use of drugs to control the blood pressure and to reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
According to him, diuretic is usually the first medication given to first-time patients for its effective management.
He noted that high blood pressure usually had no symptoms, advising people on regular blood pressure checks to avoid becoming victims of stroke, heart attack or even death.
Yildam advised that people should imbibe the act of healthy eating, adding that they should limit their alcohol intake and also cut down on their salt intake.
“People should also inculcate the habit of exercising regularly and ensure they have eight to 10 hours of sleep daily,” he added.
He further advised that people should eat more of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, poultry and fish and less of processed and refined foods.
“People should also strive to do away with stress and anxiety so as to reduce the risk of high blood pressure.”