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You should know

your Blood Pressure

Hypertension or high blood pressure is very common in our society and, if left untreated, causes damage to many organs. 90 - 95% of hypertension is called primary or essential because it is not due to another condition and the cause is often not known. Some factors however increase the risk of developing hypertension therefore prevention means controlling these risk factors by:

• Eating a healthy diet of reduced salt and fat with increased water fiber fruits and vegetables
• Regular physical activity (exercise)
• Reducing stress
• Moderate alcohol intake
• Quitting smoking

Other risk factors which you cannot control include having a family history of hypertension, being of African descent, aging and being male. Studies have shown that men are at a higher risk of developing hypertension until women reach menopause then the risk is about the same.

A person with hypertension may have no symptoms hence the term “silent killer”. However, symptoms may include severe headaches, dizziness, nosebleeds, chest pains, vision problems, tiredness and difficulty breathing.

Everyone (including children) should check their blood pressure regularly even if they feel well. Digital monitors are readily available so checks can be done at home as well as at pharmacies, labs, clinics, doctor's offices, and any number of screenings in the community.

The earlier you know you are at risk the sooner interventions can happen. If you need medications to control your blood pressure, take them as prescribed, continue practicing a healthy lifestyle and monitor your blood pressure regularly. The goal is to avoid complications like heart failure, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness or early death.
Be your own advocate, take charge of your health!

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