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World Hypertension Day: Do you know your blood pressure?
Author: Dr. Craig Thompson
Published: 17/05/2019


Wo​rld Hypertension Day: Do you know your blood pressure?


High blood pressure is medically known as hypertension. When blood pressure exceeds a certain threshold, we call it high blood pressure. Unlike many other diseases, hypertension has no symptoms and hence it is called the "silent killer".

Approximately four in 10 adults (40%) older than 25 years have hypertension. This means that nearly one billion people worldwide have hypertension. The unfortunate part is that around 50% of these people are unaware of their condition. Of those who are aware, half do not take any action to control their blood pressure, either through lifestyle modification or medication.

Here are easy to understand questions and answers to help you along:

How can I be affected by hypertension?

People may develop hypertension because it runs in their family or due to lifestyle habits, such as harmful use of alcohol, physica​​​l inactivity, overweight, high salt intake, or excessive stress levels


What are the consequences of hypertension?

Hypertension is a leading cause of death. It's also one of the main risk factors for heart disease, strokes, kidney disease and even eye disease. By detecting hypertension early, you can help minimize its complications


What is "healthy" blood pressure?

Blood pressure is recorded as two numbers: systolic (upper number) and diastolic (lower number). Hypertension is traditionally defined as blood pressure more than or equal to 140/90 mm Hg. In most cases, the higher the blood pressure, the stronger the likelihood of serious consequences for the heart, brain or kidneys.


Can I check my blood pressure myself?

A blood pressure test is simple, non-invasive and takes only a few minutes. However, tests are usually done by a healthcare professional, who uses an electronic device that is strapped to the upper arm. Today blood pressure can be measured at home through self-measurement, using home blood-pressure monitors as well. It is important that some simple rules are followed when checking for hypertension: sitting calmly, feet flat on floor, not having eaten in the past hour, etc.


How often should I get my blood pressure checked?

Ideally, you should have your blood pressure checked every year.


How can I improve blood pressure control?

Lifestyle counselling and medication remain the cornerstone of management at all levels of hypertension. Lifestyle changes include weight reduction, low salt diets, increased physical activity and moderate alcohol use. Also stop smoking. Try to reduce excessive stress levels in your life.

In conclusion, the good news is that blood pressure is easily measurable without any discomfort. For more information about hypertension, contact us at Campus Health Services (021 808 3496), where BP tests are offered free of charge to all students and staff members, every day during office hours by nursing sisters.


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  3. World Health Organisation. A global brief on hypertension Silent killer, public health crisis. WHO 2013
  4. Chow CK, et al. Prevalence, awareness, treatment, and control of hypertension in rural and urban communities in high-, middle-, and low-income countries. JAMA 2013;310:959-68.
  5. World Health Organisation. A global brief on hypertension Silent killer, public health crisis. WHO 2013