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The heart is a muscular organ that pumps blood around the body. It plays a vital role in the health of an individual. Our lifestyles affect the heart to a great extent and most times put it at risk. It is advisable to know your blood pressure as this tells you the state of your heart.

Blood pressure generally refers to the Arterial blood pressure. It is the pressure exerted by the contained blood in the arteries. Biological factors such as heart rate, cardiac output etc. are necessary to maintain the blood pressure. The normal range for blood pressure is between 100mmHg-130 mmHg for systolic pressure (pressure exerted in the arteries when the heart contracts – the number usually on top) and 60mmHg- 80mmHg for diastolic pressure ( pressure in the arteries when the heart dilates – the number usually below). Any abnormal increase or decrease in the blood pressure is a cause for concern.

High blood pressure also known as hypertension is a very common condition. It is a persistent abnormal rise in the pressure exerted by the blood in the arteries due to narrowing of the Arterial wall. When the systolic blood pressure remains above 140mmHg and the diastolic blood pressure remains above 90 mmHg the blood pressure is said to be high. Hypertension can either be primary or secondary.

Primary hypertension is hypertension without any known underlying cause. This is the more common type of hypertension.

Secondary hypertension occurs due to underlying conditions such as atherosclerosis ( hardening of blood vessels due to fat deposition), kidney disease, some hormonal derangements etc.
There are several factors that may increase the risk of having a high blood pressure. They include:

  1. Smoking
  2. Black race
  3. Lack of physical activity ( sedentary lifestyle)
  4. Overweight ( obesity)
  5. Poor diet (high fat / high salt diet)
  6. Genetics ( a family history of hypertension)
  7. Old age
  8. Stress
  9. Kidney disease
  10. Chronic alcohol intake
  11. Obstructivee sleep apnea (difficulty in breathing while sleeping)
  12. Congenital heart defect (problem with the heart from birth). Other health condition includes diabetes.
Health problems that could arise as a result of high blood pressure

Hypertension is a silent killer as one can have it for years without showing any symptoms while it silently causes damage that can lead to other life threatening conditions like stroke and kidney disease. This is why it is advisable to always check your blood pressure ( BP).
Symptoms if they occur may include:

  1. Frequent headaches
  2. Shortness of breath
  3. Dizziness
  4. Angina (chest pain or shortness of breath due to Arterial blockage)
  5. Haematuria ( blood in urine)
  6. Nosebleeds

The best way to know if you have hypertension is to regularly check your blood pressure. Usually more than one checkup would be required before your doctor can make a diagnosis of hypertension as an elevation in blood pressure could be due to other conditions such as physical or mental stress. Also, other tests would be carried out so as to rule out any underlying condition.

Secondary hypertension can be cured by treating the underlying conditions but primary hypertension cannot be cured since it has no main cause. It can only be controlled by the following;

  1. Medications such as beta blockers, diuretics, calcium channel blockers etc.
  2. Healthy diet
  3. Physical exercise
  4. Stress avoidance