Hypertension or high blood pressure is called the silent killer because it is. Many people with hypertension show no warning signs or symptoms, and do not know they have the dangerous condition.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries, which carry blood from the heart to other parts of the body. Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day. But if your blood pressure remains high for a long time, this can damage vital organs. High blood pressure raises a person’s risk for heart disease, stroke, and kidney damage, which are among the leading causes of sickness and death in the Philippines.
National surveys conducted by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Philippine Heart Association (PHA) reveal that the number of Filipinos with hypertension has been steadily increasing. From 11% in 1992, the prevalence of hypertension in the country increased to 28% in 2013. This means that about 1 in 4 Filipinos is hypertensive.
A 1996 PHA study showed that almost 6 in 10 hypertensive Filipinos (58%) have target organ damage (TOD), i.e. their heart, kidneys, eyes and brain have been damaged by uncontrolled hypertension. The PHA followed this up with another study in 2003 and found that hypertension-related stroke was the most common cause of death in patients confined in the hospital, the majority of who had uncontrolled hypertension and poor treatment compliance. The latest 2013 PHA survey PRESYON 3 showed that hypertension awareness, treatment compliance, and blood pressure control rates in the country are low.
Measure your blood pressure regularly
Measuring your blood pressure regularly is the only way to know whether you have hypertension, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Measuring your blood pressure is quick and painless, and can be done at a doctor’s office, at a pharmacy, or at home.
Blood pressure is measured using two numbers. The first number, called systolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart beats. The second number, called diastolic blood pressure, measures the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart rests between beats. If the measurement reads 120 systolic and 80 diastolic, you would say “120 over 80” or write “120/80 mmHg.”
A blood pressure less than 120/80 mmHg is normal. A blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or more is too high. People with levels in between 120/80 and 140/90 have a condition called prehypertension, which means they are at high risk for high blood pressure.
|Blood Pressure Levels|
|Normal||systolic: less than 120 mmHgdiastolic: less than 80mmHg
|At risk (prehypertension)||systolic: 120–139 mmHgdiastolic: 80–89 mmHg
|High||systolic: 140 mmHg or higherdiastolic: 90 mmHg or higher
Eat a healthy diet
To help lower and control your blood pressure, the CDC recommends a diet that is:
- Low in salt (sodium), total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
- High in fresh fruits and vegetables; heart-healthy fish, such as salmon, herring and tuna; whole-grain bread, cereal and pasta; nuts, seeds and legumes; lean meat and poultry (without the skin) that are baked, broiled, grilled or roasted.
Regular physical activity can help lower and control your blood pressure, reduce your risk for chronic diseases, improve your balance and coordination, help you lose weight, and even boost your self-esteem.
If you’re just starting a regular physical regimen, try taking a brisk 10-minute walk three times a day, five days a week. When you’ve built up your regimen, try aiming for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, and doing strength training exercises at least twice a week.
Do not smoke
Smoking harms your health in so many ways, including increasing blood pressure. If you smoke, quit as soon as possible. Talk to your doctor about a smoking cessation program that’s right for you.
Work with your doctor
Regular consultation with your doctor can help you lower and control your blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medications and lifestyle changes. Follow your doctor’s instructions and stay on your medications. Do not stop taking your medications unless your doctor tells you to. All drugs may have side effects; so talk to your doctor regularly.
Top 10 sources of sodium
Most of the sodium we consume is in the form of salt. The body needs a small amount of sodium to work properly, but too much sodium can increase blood pressure and the risk for heart disease and stroke.
More than 40% of the sodium we eat each day comes from only 10 types of food. Many people are surprised to learn which foods are on the list below because these foods do not always taste salty.
- Breads and rolls
- Cold cuts and cured meats
- Pasta dishes
- Meat dishes
– Eric Michael Santos, Medical Observer