Enyeribe Ejiogu ([email protected])
These are not pleasant days for Peter Johnson (not real name), a senior advertising services executive living in Lagos, Nigeria’s emerging mega city, which is known for its hustle and bustle.
For Johnson, every working day is like going to war, a war of wits to win the hearts and flip the minds of managers of various sub-budgets for promotion of brands. The advertising business has never been an easy ride (no business is anyway, but the cut throat competition is worse in Nigeria). So expectedly, sourcing adverts for newspapers – from the few corporates that still have budgetary provisions for above-the-line advertising, especially when most of them are re-channeling their advertising spend to online platforms visited by Nigerians – daily leaves Johnson stressed and fagged out. But somehow, he has managed to keep his boat on an even keel, until recently when he made a shocking discovery.
Three years earlier, Johnson had, on a spur of the moment, bought a blood pressure meter for home use at a medical equipment store, after buying medical materials he donated to the local branch of his church which was planning a community health outreach. The meter was rarely used by him; on two occasions he had used it to read the blood pressure of two neighbours. Somehow, perhaps for fear of finding out the truth, Johnson was never stirred to check his own blood pressure from time to time. This persisted until August 20, 2020, the day of reckoning, when he felt very uncomfortable. He sprang up from the bed where he was reading a book, brought out the blood pressure meter and took his reading. The meter showed a systolic value of 163 and a diastolic value of 103. The time was 3.15pm. He took a deep breathe, let it out and then made a resolute decision to see a doctor at a nearby hospital.
What is high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force that the blood exerts on arteries as it flows away from the heart to all parts of the body. Each time the hearts, an amount of blood is pushed along the length of the artery, in a rhythmic manner that can be measured. The number of beats per minute is called pulse. Similarly, when blood flows back to the heart it also exerts pressure (though lower in force) on the wall of the veins. Pressure of blood flowing away from the heart is called the systolic pressure while the pressure on the vein is called the diastolic pressure. The two pressures are written as systolic/diastolic (upper and lower figures). For instance, for an adult the normal blood pressure is presented as 120/80.
A person is said to have high blood pressure (also called hypertension) when the blood pressure consistently remains higher than normal.
“A number of things can cause high blood pressure,” says Dr. Lambo Dozie Igwe, medical director of Edozie Clinic, Owerri, Imo State. “If your blood pressure gets too high or stays high for a long time, it can cause health problems. Uncontrolled high blood pressure puts you at a higher risk for stroke, heart disease, heart attack, and kidney failure,” adds the medical practitioner, who trained at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, UNTH, Enugu.
There are two types of high blood pressure. The first, primary hypertension, also known as essential hypertension occurs when there is no known cause for the high blood pressure. This is the most common type of hypertension. This type of blood pressure usually takes many years to develop. It could be the result of a person’s lifestyle or environment, and oftentimes it may be due to changes in the body as one gets older. On the that Johnson took the blood pressure reading that spurred him into action, he was 58 even though he looked like 48, with a lithe frame that had no extra gram of fat. A real teetotaler, who at 16 resolved never to drink alcohol or smoke and a very disciplined fellow who was very careful about what he ate.
The other type of high blood pressure is secondary hypertension, which happens when a medical condition or medicine is the cause of the problem. A number of health conditions have been determined to cause secondary hypertension. Among these are: kidney problems, thyroid or adrenal gland problems, sleep apnea and some medications.
Symptoms of hypertension
The tricky thing about hypertension is that most people who have it will not experience any symptoms. The person’s health will just be deteriorating gradually without warning until one day he could suddenly become sick with life-threatening symptoms that would him to be rushed to a hospital and a few days later, the person dies. And the obituary announcement put out by the family say, “he died at 55 after a brief illness.” The ‘brief illness’ (hypertension) might have started 10 years earlier when he was 45 years and was not undergoing regular blood pressure check! This is why medical practitioners like Dr. Sam Adebayo, medical director of Dayspring Hospital Group, refer to hypertension as “the silent killer.” For this reason, Igwe, Adebayo and all other medical doctors advise that it is very important for a person to have one’s blood pressure checked regularly.
Before being diagnosed by a doctor, a person who has high blood pressure may experience headaches, nosebleeds or shortness of breath. However, those symptoms can mimic many other things (serious or non-serious). Usually, these symptoms begin manifest once blood pressure has reached a dangerously high level over a period of time.
It is also known that certain foods, medicines, lifestyle, age, and genetics can cause high blood pressure. Only a doctor can determine the possible cause of the hypertension, after taking a comprehensive medical history of the person. That is why nobody is encouraged to resort to self-medication and Google diagnosis of his condition. Undiagnosed and untreated hypertension can lead to stroke, heart disease or even sudden death. In other words, hypertension can give you a technical knockout (TKO) as it is said in boxing. Please go and see a doctor.
• To be continued next week…..