Arguably, the heart is one central organ that is pivotal to human survival. It’s been so amazingly designed and crafted to work round the clock throughout the lifetime of a man. Blood pressure is a function of the force with which the heart pumps blood around the body and the resistance of the peripheral blood vessels to the flow of blood. When you go for a blood pressure check, the reading would normally consist of two values. The upper value which is the systolic blood pressure normally ranges from 90 -140mmHg while the lower value, the diastolic blood pressure ranges from 60 – 90mmHg. Based on this fact, blood pressure is said to be elevated when greater than 140/90mmHg. However, a diagnosis of hypertension is only made after 3 separate occasions of elevated blood pressure. Experts have recommended that the blood pressure should be checked every 2 – 4 weeks for hypertensive individuals still undergoing adjustments in their medications, while stable individuals ought to have theirs checked every 3 months.
Unfortunately, however, blood pressure is a key health parameter, the importance of which not many people are aware of. Here are a few reasons why you should have your blood pressure checked regularly:
1. Hypertension is very rampant
Sadly, over one billion people all over the world are hypertensive with uncontrolled hypertension claiming over 7.1 million lives annually. Sadder still, because of the silent nature of this killer disease, the majority of those who have it are not aware and even among those who are aware, many fail to seek treatment for it. This explains why this scourge continues to claim innocent lives of unsuspecting victims.
2. High blood pressure rarely produces symptoms
Another subtle feature of hypertension is that it is mostly asymptomatic. Little wonder some have aptly labelled it as the ‘silent’ killer. The implication of this is you should never wait until you start feeling any particular symptom before you check your blood pressure. It may be too late! However, certain symptoms may suggest the possibility of a raised blood pressure. They include persistent headache, blurry vision, palpitations (abnormal awareness of heartbeat), poor sleep as well as tingling (pinprick) sensations on the palms and soles among others.
3. Blood pressure can be easily measured
In the past, people needed to visit a health facility to have their blood pressure manually checked by a trained health personnel. However, since the advent of automated blood pressure-measuring devices, the story has changed. On your own, you can easily operate the device which then displays your blood pressure reading as well as pulse rate within 1-2 minutes. Fortunately also, many of these portable devices would even indicate whether your blood pressure is normal, high or low, whichever is the case. Plus you can easily get yours now at any standard medical equipment outlet and they are quite cheap.
4. Uncontrolled blood pressure has life-threatening complications
Once elevated blood pressure is left unmanaged, it begins to damage blood vessels that supply sensitive body organs. In fact, hypertension is the leading cause of most cerebrovascular accidents (stroke). Under increased pressure, the arteries of the brain may either burst or get blocked thereby cutting off the blood supply to vital parts of the brain. This may manifest as a sudden paralysis of the limbs on one side of the body or slurring of speech or blindness. Furthermore, hypertension can also damage the blood vessels of the heart, kidneys and penis leading to heart attacks, kidney failures and erectile dysfunction (impotence) respectively.
5. High blood pressure can be readily treated
If you discover early enough that your blood pressure is high, numerous treatment options are available and it is by no means a death sentence. Your doctor may counsel you on non-pharmacological approaches that do not involve drugs. Such measures include regular exercise, alcohol intake reduction, cessation of smoking and adoption of Diets Appropriate in Stopping Hypertension (DASH) like fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and low-salt foods. In some cases, these simple measures help to restore the blood pressure to the normal range. Otherwise, numerous efficacious anti-hypertensive medications are available for your treatment.
6. Certain risk factors for hypertension cannot be prevented
Apart from the avoidable (modifiable) risk factors of hypertension such as excessive alcohol, smoking, dyslipidemia, sedentary lifestyle, obesity and diabetes, a few other risk factors cannot be modified or prevented. For instance, with increasing age, the tendency to have high blood pressure increases. This is termed essential hypertension. Others include a family history of hypertension especially in a first-degree relative, black race and the male gender. Note that after menopause, females tend to stand the same risk of hypertension as males.
From the foregoing, it is obvious that you will be doing yourself a whole lot of good by having your blood pressure checked regularly, either by yourself or by a trained health personnel who can also give you other valuable tips concerning your overall health.