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Hypertension: The Nigerian Epidemic



Do you know that 1 in 3 Nigerian adults is hypertensive? This means that for every three people you meet, one of them deals with this condition. So, what exactly is hypertension and should we be worried?

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, BP, is a medical condition in which the force of blood against the artery walls is too high. Blood pressure is determined by two factors; the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. Therefore, the more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.

Although high BP is a chronic ailment that can be a lifelong battle, it is treatable by medical professionals. However, due to its limited symptoms, an individual can have high blood pressure for years without any symptoms. For most adults, there is no identifiable cause of primary high blood pressure. Though there are risk factors such as stress, overconsumption of alcohol, tobacco usage, excess salt (sodium) in one’s diet, limited potassium in one’s diet, physical inactivity, obesity, family history, age, and race.

The best way to combat the long term effects of high BP is to have regular medical checkups in addition to living a healthy life. Ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every two years starting at age 18. If you are age 40 or older, or you are 18 to 39 with a high risk of high blood pressure, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading every year. Blood pressure generally should be checked in both arms to determine if there is a difference.

The prevalence of this condition in our society reflects a larger issue. It shows that we as a society are not taking the best care of ourselves. I encourage everyone out there to eat healthier, move more, indulge moderately, avoid daily stressors, and most importantly, take proactive steps such as yearly medical checkups. We do not have to wait until there is a problem to visit the doctor’s office. As they say, “prevention is better than cure.”



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