High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a significant medical issue in Nigeria. Research studies consistently reveal its alarming prevalence amongst Nigerians.
In 2020, a study led by the University of Edinburgh showed a staggering increase of over 28 million hypertension cases in Nigeria, rising from four million in 1995.
With these numbers on the rise, it becomes imperative for everyone to understand how to manage and prevent hypertension. Left untreated, it can lead to severe and far-reaching consequences.
While there is no immediate cure for hypertension, it’s important to recognize that it is manageable and often preventable.
In this article, we will outline measures to help individuals lower their blood pressure, as well as provide information on the types, and causes of high blood pressure and its associated risks.
What is High Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries as the heart pumps it throughout the body. It is determined by two factors: the volume of blood pumped by the heart and the resistance to blood flow in the arteries.
Blood pressure is typically measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and is presented as two numbers, for example, 120/80 mm Hg. The first number represents the systolic pressure, and the second number indicates the diastolic pressure.
Diastolic blood pressure, which is the higher number, indicates the pressure exerted by your blood against your artery walls during a heartbeat. In contrast, systolic blood pressure, the lower number, reflects the pressure when the heart muscle is at rest between contractions.
Blood pressure is an essential vital sign that helps medical practitioners assess your cardiovascular health. Irregular blood pressure can lead to low blood pressure (hypotension) and high blood pressure (high blood pressure).
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a prevalent condition that impacts the body’s arteries. It is medically defined as the persistent elevation of the force of blood against arterial walls.
The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association classify blood pressure into four categories, with “normal” blood pressure as the desired state:
- Normal blood pressure: Systolic pressure below 120 mm Hg and diastolic pressure below 80 mm Hg.
- Elevated blood pressure: Systolic pressure between 120 and 129 mm Hg and diastolic pressure below 80 mm Hg.
- Stage 1 hypertension: Systolic pressure between 130 and 139 mm Hg or diastolic pressure between 80 and 89 mm Hg.
- Stage 2 hypertension: Systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher or diastolic pressure of 90 mm Hg or higher.
When dealing with Stage 2 hypertension, healthcare professionals typically recommend a combination of blood pressure medications and lifestyle changes.
A hypertensive crisis represents a critical phase of high blood pressure, requiring immediate medical attention. If your blood pressure readings suddenly exceed 180/120 mm Hg, promptly contact your healthcare professional.
Below is a table showing the blood pressure ranges, as shown by the American Heart Association.
|Blood pressure categories||Systolic (first number)||and/or||Diastolic (second number)|
|Normal||Less than 120 mmHg||and||Less than 80 mmHg|
|Elevated||120-129 mmHg||or||Less than 80 mmHg|
|High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 1||130-139 mmHg||or||80-89 mmHg|
|High Blood Pressure (Hypertension) Stage 2||140 mmHg or Higher||or||90 mmHg or higher|
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure results from a combination of different factors. We can categorize the causes into two distinct parts:
- Primary high blood pressure: This is the most common type of hypertension. It has no underlying cause and gradually develops over time.
- Secondary high blood pressure: Secondary hypertension is caused by an identifiable condition e.g. an underlying disease like kidney disease. It typically appears suddenly and can affect individuals of all ages, including children.
Common causes and risk factors
If high blood pressure runs in your family, you’re more likely to have it too. A genetic study conducted at the University of Ibadan found that individuals with a family history of hypertension are at a higher risk.
If you have a family history of high blood pressure, it’s advisable to monitor your blood pressure regularly and take preventive measures to reduce your risk.
2. Unhealthy Lifestyle Choices
Your lifestyle plays a significant role in high blood pressure. Some of the factors that can cause hypertension include poor diet choices, lack of exercise, excessive salt consumption, and high alcohol intake.
Obesity is a well-known risk factor of hypertension. When you’re a heavier weight person, you have a high chance of experiencing irregular blood pressure.
Common causes of high blood pressure include insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, sleep apnea, and endothelial dysfunction.
Smoking comes with many negative effects. The nicotine and chemicals in cigarettes, vapes, and tobacco can constrict blood vessels, causing an increase in blood pressure.
Chronic stress can cause temporary blood pressure spikes and, over time, harm cardiovascular health. Stress triggers the “fight or flight” response, releasing hormones that increase heart rate and constrict blood vessels.
Blood pressure tends to increase with age. As we get older, our arteries become less flexible, making it harder for them to expand and contract. This could in turn, lead to hypertension.
7. Kidney Disease
Kidney problems can also interfere with the body’s ability to regulate blood pressure, as the kidneys play a vital role in maintaining blood pressure.
When kidney function is compromised due to various kidney conditions or diseases, it can lead to high blood pressure.
8. Underlying Medical Conditions
Conditions such as diabetes, sleep apnea, and hormonal disorders can be associated with high blood pressure.
Certain medications can raise blood pressure, including those containing stimulants or decongestants, oral contraceptives, and NSAIDs, which raise blood pressure by stimulating the heart and narrowing blood vessels.
Pregnancy-induced hypertension, also known as gestational hypertension, is a condition that can develop during pregnancy.
While it typically resolves after childbirth, severe hypertension can have various effects on both the mother and the baby during pregnancy.
Symptoms of High Blood Pressure
Most people with high blood pressure have no symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach high levels.
However, there are some common symptoms that may manifest in certain individuals especially when blood pressure is extremely high. These symptoms include;
- Headaches: If you’re hypertensive, you may experience severe and persistent headaches, particularly in the back of the head.
- Nosebleeds: Frequent or unexplained nosebleeds can sometimes be associated with hypertension.
- Dizziness or Lightheadedness: If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, especially when standing up, you may have high blood pressure.
- Blurred or Double Vision: If you notice that you get blurred or double vision, you may have hypertension.
- Chest Pain: While not a common symptom, some individuals with high blood pressure may experience chest pain. It’s essential to rule out other potential causes, such as heart-related issues.
- Shortness of Breath: In severe cases of hypertension, individuals may experience difficulty breathing.
What Causes High Blood Pressure in Young Adults?
High blood pressure is not unusual among young adults. According to the National Health Statistics Reports published in June 2021, nearly a quarter of those aged 18 to 39 have hypertension.
In Nigeria, high blood pressure in young adults can be attributed to various factors. While less common in this age group, it’s still a matter of concern.
Factors may include smoking (including vapes and tobacco), obesity, dyslipidemia, stress, lack of exercise, and excessive salt consumption. Detecting and addressing it early can help prevent complications and reduce long-term risks associated with high blood pressure.
What Causes High Blood Pressure in Women?
High blood pressure can affect anyone, but specific factors can cause high blood pressure in women. These factors include menopause, pregnancy, hormonal changes, obesity, stress, genetics, and unhealthy diets.
A study published in the Journal of Hypertension highlighted the increasing prevalence of hypertension among women in their 30s. It’s important for women to be aware of these factors and take steps to reduce their risk.
Regular blood pressure testing is advisable, especially if you notice irregularities in your blood pressure.
What Causes High Blood Pressure in Men?
High blood pressure in men can be caused by various factors, such as smoking, obesity, physical inactivity, excessive use of steroids, and high alcohol consumption.
High blood pressure is more common in men compared to women before the age of 50 years old, according to the National Institute on Aging, although the reasons are unclear. Regular blood pressure screening is essential, especially for young or middle-aged men (20s to early 40s).
What Causes High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy?
High blood pressure during pregnancy is a condition that affects many expectant mothers. If left unchecked, it could lead to severe complications like preeclampsia, endangering both the mother and the baby.
Common causes of hypertension during pregnancy may include pre-existing hypertension, age, stress, obesity, and other factors like diabetes, kidney disease, autoimmune diseases, in vitro fertilization, and lack of access to necessary prenatal care.
Regular prenatal check-ups and blood pressure monitoring are advised for pregnant women.
Is Bitter Kola Good for High Blood Pressure?
Bitter kola is used across Africa as a natural remedy for high blood pressure. Some studies suggest it may have a positive impact, but there is ongoing debate regarding its safety and effectiveness.
Individuals with high blood pressure should consult a doctor before incorporating bitter kola or any natural remedies into their treatment plan.
Can Malaria Cause High Blood Pressure?
Malaria is widespread in Nigeria. While malaria itself doesn’t directly cause hypertension, scientific studies suggest that malaria may affect the blood pressure regulatory system, potentially leading to hypertension.
Can Typhoid Cause High Blood Pressure?
There is no proof that typhoid fever can directly cause high blood pressure. However, severe typhoid fever can lead to dehydration, stress, and fluid loss, which may result in a temporary increase in blood pressure.
Can Stomach Ulcer Cause High Blood Pressure?
There is no direct evidence that stomach ulcers, or peptic ulcers, directly cause hypertension. Stomach ulcers primarily affect the digestive system, while hypertension is related to cardiovascular and circulatory systems.
Chronic stress, often associated with ulcers, may contribute to high blood pressure indirectly.
Does Anemia Cause High Blood Pressure?
The relationship between anemia and high blood pressure is complex and not entirely conclusive. Research suggests that individuals with iron deficiency anemia may have a slightly higher risk of developing hypertension.
However, these studies indicate associations, not direct causation.
Is Cassava Good for High Blood Pressure?
While cassava is a dietary staple in Nigeria that is rich in fiber and potassium, which are generally considered beneficial for managing blood pressure.
However, there is no strong evidence indicating that cassava is a remedy for hypertension.
Can Ulcer Cause High Blood Pressure?
Ulcer has not been scientifically proven to cause high blood pressure.
How to Use Mango Leaves for High Blood Pressure?
In Nigeria, mango leaves are used as a natural remedy for various health conditions, including high blood pressure. These leaves contain natural hypotensive properties that aid in reducing blood pressure, as reported by NDTV Food.
They are also believed to strengthen blood vessels, and address issues like varicose veins.
Some people suggest daily consumption for a specific period can help manage an individual’s blood pressure.
Below is a simple guide on how to use Mango Leaves for High Blood Pressure.
- Select fresh Mango leaves
- Prepare the leaves using any method you want. Mango leaves can be used fresh, dried, or as tea.
If you’re using fresh leaves, wash thoroughly and soak in water overnight. For dried leaves, you can crush them into fine powder and add them to your drink or meals. You can also use the leaves as tea by boiling for a few minutes.
While using the Mango leaves, ensure you check your blood pressure regularly to help you track any changes in your blood pressure.
Can High Blood Pressure Be Cured in 3 Minutes?
High blood pressure is a chronic condition that develops over time and cannot be cured in 3 minutes.
It can be managed with the right practices, medication, and lifestyle, but there is no instant fix. Managing high blood pressure requires a long-term commitment and discipline.
Can Garlic Cure High Blood Pressure?
Garlic has been studied for its potential effects on high blood pressure, but it is not a guaranteed cure. While there is evidence suggesting a modest impact, it should not be considered a sole solution for high blood pressure.
Consult medical professionals before relying on garlic or any natural remedies for hypertension.
How to prevent High blood pressure
Preventing high blood pressure is essential for maintaining your heart’s health.
Below, we’ll show you the different ways that you can prevent high blood pressure.
1. Be physically active
Being physically active has a lot of health benefits in general. When you exercise regularly, your heart gets stronger and pumps blood more effectively.
Engage in regular physical activity, such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend doing at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week, or around 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. The CDC recommends 1 hour of exercise per day for children and teens.
2. Get Adequate Sleep
To prevent high blood pressure, aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night.
Sleep plays a critical role in blood pressure regulation, and chronic sleep deprivation can lead to hypertension.
3. Manage Stress
Finding ways to manage stress is important for your health and your blood pressure.
Ways of relieving stress depend on the individual but you can practice stress relieving techniques such as meditation, deep breathing, yoga, resting, exercise, listening to music e.t.c
4. Reduce Salt Intake
Consuming too much is a major cause of high blood pressure. You can prevent high blood pressure by reducing your salt intake and increasing potassium in your diet.
Good sources of potassium include dried fruits, milk, yogurt, kidney beans, etc.
5. Reduce Alcohol
If you drink alcohol, try to do so in moderation. Too much alcohol intake can cause very bad effects on your health.
Despite the hype, drinking a lot of red wine is not beneficial for heart health, according to the American Heart Association Trusted Source.
They suggest limiting alcohol intake to two standard drinks per day for males and one per day for females.
6. Quit or Avoid Smoking
Smoking can affect your overall well-being, including your blood pressure. Smoking damages blood vessels and raises blood pressure.
In the long term, Nicotine, which is the addictive chemical in smoke, can increase your blood pressure.
Whether or not you’re the one smoking, the chemicals can have effects on you even as secondhand smoke.
Untreated high blood pressure can result in severe health issues, including heart disease, stroke, kidney problems, etc.
Hypertension is a severe health condition, and it is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it frequently has no noticeable symptoms, even when it reaches dangerously high levels.
However, it can be managed and controlled through positive lifestyle changes, medication, or a combination of both.
Remember, managing hypertension is a long-term commitment. While you can take some steps in this article to manage your blood pressure, it’s essential to consult with a doctor for personalized guidance on treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Some clinical studies have reported that Zobo, a red-colored drink made from hibiscus flowers, modestly reduces blood pressure. Hibiscus tea (Zobo) is known for its potential blood pressure-lowering effects due to its rich antioxidants.
However, it should be consumed in moderation, as excessive intake can have adverse effects and may interact with certain medications.
Yes, bitter leaf, with its high potassium content, has the ability to lower blood pressure. Bitter leaf contains compounds that may have a positive influence on blood pressure, as they can cause blood vessels to dilate.
Adding bitter leaves to your diet occasionally is recommended for the health benefits it offers.
Depression can lead to physiological changes in the body, including the release of stress hormones like cortisol. Prolonged stress and elevated cortisol levels can affect blood vessel function and increase blood pressure.
Additionally, depression can lead to unhealthy behaviors such as poor diet, sleep patterns, physical inactivity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption, all of which are common risk factors for hypertension.
If left untreated, hypertension can lead to serious health issues, including heart disease, stroke, kidney problems, and more.
A lot of times hypertension may have no noticeable symptoms. In other cases, individuals may experience headaches, nosebleeds, or dizziness, but these are not reliable indicators of high blood pressure.
While it cannot always be prevented, lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress management, can help reduce the risk of developing hypertension.
Normal blood pressure is typically around 120/80 mm Hg. Blood pressure values can vary among individuals, but values above this range may indicate hypertension.
Hypertension is often called the “silent killer” because it can be present without noticeable symptoms.
Many people may not be aware they have high blood pressure until it causes serious health problems.
Regular blood pressure monitoring is essential, especially if you have a history of hypertension.
It is advisable to purchase the test machine and keep at home for regular tests.
Yes, the food you consume can play a significant role in managing blood pressure. To gain better control of hypertension, reduce salt intake, alcohol, and caffeine and consume diets rich in fruits and vegetables.