High Blood Pressure in Nigeria: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments
Millions of Nigerians suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension, which is a health condition that requires medical treatment. Although it rarely shows any symptoms in some people, if left unchecked and untreated, it can cause serious health issues.
High blood pressure, also known as Hypertension, is not new to Nigerians. Many know about it but are misinformed because unlike other health issues, most cases of high blood pressure do not show signs and symptoms.
The Silent killer as it is called by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has claimed the lives of so many unannounced. It is normal for the body’s blood pressure to rise and fall during the day as it should because we engage in activities that require movement.
The problem starts when it rises and refuses to come down. The good news is that high blood pressure can be managed with medications and lifestyle changes but you need to always check or monitor it to be on the safe side.
The number of Nigerians diagnosed with high blood pressure has increased over the years. A Meta Analysis review by the World Health Organization( WHO) carried out in 2018 in Nigeria stated that 31.2% of adults in Nigeria are hypertensive. With women leading with 31.1% and men 29.5%.
If broken down to a layman’s understanding, It means that over 60 million Nigerians were diagnosed with high blood pressure in the last five years. In this article, we will discuss all you need to know about high blood pressure, its causes, symptoms and effective ways to manage it. So read to the end.
An average Nigerian when asked this question will simply answer that high blood pressure is when older adults experience chest pain (Angina) or heart attack. While this is not the correct answer, it is related to high blood pressure. Chest pain, Aneurysm, Dementia, Heart attack, Stroke, Kidney failure etc. are health problems you can develop from having constant high blood pressure of 180/120 mmHg and above.
To go further, a definition of blood pressure will help us understand what it is all about when it is high.
Our arteries carry blood away from the heart. They are also made up of muscles and as the heart pumps blood into the arteries, it comes with a force that hits on the wall as the blood is flowing. So, blood pressure is simply the pressure blood puts on the walls of the artery as it is flowing. This pressure on the walls of the artery can weaken or burst if the pressure is too high.
High blood pressure is simply blood pressure that is very high. Sometimes it is so high that the body goes into crisis.
To read the blood pressure, two numbers are needed – The systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. The Systolic blood pressure records the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats. It is written as the first number or numerator. Diastolic blood pressure records the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats. It is written as the second number or denominator. Both are measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg).
Blood Pressure of less than 90/60 is called Low blood pressure. Normal blood pressure is less than or equal to 120/80 mmHg for adults. High blood pressure is diagnosed if, on two different occasions, your blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or higher. High blood pressure of 180/120 mmHg and above is considered Hypertensive crisis and requires urgent medical attention to save the patient.
High blood pressure among Nigerians is something that develops over time as a result of so many factors. Some of them include:
Blood Pressure of 130/85mmHg and higher which is slightly elevated may not show symptoms. But if it is from 180/120mmHg and higher, your body will show symptoms. This is termed a Hypertensive crisis and requires urgent medical attention.
Some of the symptoms include:
These and many more are the symptoms of high blood pressure that should not be overlooked. Once you notice two or more of these signs, see your doctor to check your blood pressure and put you on the required medications to help.
Constant High blood pressure can damage or burst the arteries thereby putting one at risk of developing Heart problems, Kidney failure, Stroke, loss of vision and even death.
Some complications that can result from uncontrolled high blood pressure include:
When treating or managing high blood pressure, several factors need to be considered. Some of these factors include the severity of the condition and risk factors of developing cardiovascular diseases, stroke or kidney failure among the patients. It is advisable to follow your doctor’s guide in managing your high blood pressure.
For patients with blood pressure readings of less than 140/90 mmHg, lifestyle changes like low salt diet, exercise, quitting smoking and alcohol etc. may be recommended by the doctor. For those with 180/120 mmHg and higher, medications and lifestyle changes will be recommended.
Two methods are used in treating or managing high blood pressure effectively.
Doctors use these medications to lower the blood pressure in patients
This plays a great role in lowering blood pressure naturally. Some lifestyle changes include:
Millions of Nigerians suffer from high blood pressure or hypertension, which is a health condition that requires medical treatment. Although it rarely shows any symptoms in some people, if left unchecked and untreated, It can cause serious health issues like heart disease, stroke, dementia, aneurysm, kidney failure and death.
High blood pressure can have many causes which may not be limited to these: old age, family history, diabetes, obesity, pregnancy, stress, smoking and alcohol. These are some of the risk factors known to cause or contribute to high blood pressure generally.
For severe cases of high blood pressure (180/120mmHg), urgent medical attention and medication may be required, but for the majority of people with slightly elevated high blood pressure, lifestyle changes and a healthy diet may be all that is required to lower the blood pressure.
U.S Food and Drug Administration (2023) High Blood Pressure–Understanding the Silent Killer
John Hopkins Medicine ( 2023) Diabetes and High Blood Pressure
John Hopkins Medicine (2023) Hypertension: What you need to know as you age.
National Institute on Aging ( 2022) High blood pressure and older adults.
World Health Organization Nigeria ( 2022) Nigeria collaborates with WHO to curb hypertension, introduces control initiative.
Mayo Clinic (2022) Hypertensive crisis: What are the symptoms?
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (2021) High blood pressure