Two weeks ago, a 27-year- old hairdresser who pleaded anonymity collapsed in her saloon at Bariga, Lagos and was rushed to the hospital by neighbours. She was later diagnosed with high blood pressure. ‘’I did not feel a thing, I wasn’t having fever or sweating, I only felt a small sharp pain at my back, the next thing, I found myself admitted at the hospital. “When the doctor told me I have high blood pressure, I was shocked because I haven’t been ill for a while now. I feel very healthy,’’ she said.
Not many people were as lucky as the hairdresser. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), high blood pressure is estimated to cause 7.5 million deaths worldwide, about 12.8 per cent of the total of all deaths. WHO’s latest report shows that Africa has the highest cases of high blood pressure in the world with a prevalence rate of 40 per cent.
‘’High blood pressure is the main factor responsible for premature death in the world and, therefore, constitutes the major global burden of disease,” said Professor of Medicine and Consultant Cardiologist at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, Prof. Basden J. Onwubere . Blood pressure is described as the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps it.
The blood pressure is measured in systolic and diastolic values. Systolic is the top number and measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and diastolic is the bottom number and measures the pressure when the heart is at rest between beats.
The acceptable level in systolic is 140 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) while diastolic level is 90 mmHg. According to guidelines by WHO, European Society of Hypertension, British Hypertension Society and Nigerian Hypertension Society, hypertension means a person consistently has sustained elevation of blood pressure. Read more