Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a common problem in South Africa.

Leaving it untreated can lead to severe complications and increase heart disease, stroke, and even death.

According to the Southern Africa Hypertension Society, approximately four in ten adults have hypertension. Unfortunately, most people are unaware of their condition. The good news is that blood pressure is easily measurable, and once aware of the condition, hypertension can be managed.

What is blood pressure:

Blood pressure is the force that the blood exerts against the walls of the blood vessels. The pressure depends on the resistance of the blood vessels and how hard the heart is beating.

How do I know if I have hypertension:

It is recommended to have your blood pressure measured at least annually. This can be done at your nearest clinic or even at home with an automatic blood pressure monitor. If your blood pressure is consistently higher than the average, it is advisable to consult a healthcare practitioner.

Signs and symptoms of hypertension:

  • Severe headaches
  • Nosebleeds
  • Visual problems
  • Irregular heartbeat

Some causes of hypertension:

  • Age
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Not being physically active
  • Using tobacco products
  • Too much salt in your diet
  • Stress

Managing hypertension:

Having your blood pressure measured is the first step in managing it. Although medication is often required to maintain the blood pressure within acceptable levels in hypertension, changing a few things in your lifestyle can make a massive difference in lowering your blood pressure.

  • Eating a healthy diet including salads and vegetables
  • Choose a low salt diet
  • Replace sugary drinks with water
  • Maintain a healthy body weight
  • Avoid all tobacco products
  • Be physically active

By taking these few steps, you will be on the right road to recovery and lower blood pressure.