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High blood pressure or hypertension
affects at least 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women

Home > Hypertension

High blood pressure, or hypertension affects at least 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women – over a billion people. However, only half of all people with blood pressure are aware of it.

About hypertension

Hypertension increases the pressure of blood flow in arteries, ultimately affecting proper organ functioning that depends on blood supply. It can lead to stroke, of which there are three types: ischemic, haemorraghic and transient ischemic or “mini-stroke”.

Knowing our numbers protects us from many conditions

Hypertension is defined as blood pressure above 140/90, and is considered severe if the pressure is above 180/120. Primary hypertension with no obvious cause develops gradually while secondary hypertension is caused by an underlying condition and may manifest suddenly.

Damaged arteries due to high blood pressure can often happen over a considerable time period, making it sometimes difficult to address before symptoms such as fatigue, confusion, chest pain and others occur. Serious consequences include stroke as well as diseases of the heart which pumps blood, the kidneys that filter excess fluid and waste, interference with metabolism and increased risk of diabetes, and the brain.

Causes and risk factors

A number of causes can lead to hypertension. These include sleep apnea, kidney or thyroid issues, birth defects, drug use, and certain medications even some that are non-prescription or over-the-counter. Exacerbating the risk can be hereditary factors, age, and race (found to be more common those of African heritage). But lifestyle risks play a definitive role too and there is much we can do:

  • Being overweight or obese puts extra pressure on arteries to work harder so consistent weight in a recommended range is a top goal.
  • Being inactive leads also makes the heart work harder so any form of regular exercise will help contribute to normal blood pressure.
  • Quitting tobacco that damages artery walls and leads to heart disease is crucial.
  • Paying attention to salt and potassium: reducing salt intake so that the body does not retain excess fluid which raises blood pressure and getting enough potassium which helps balance sodium in the body.
  • Drinking in moderation to reduce heart damage; the usual daily recommendation is to not exceed one (for women) or two (for men).
  • Managing stress through meditation, yoga, effective breathing techniques and striving for work-life balance.