Know your Blood Pressure for your heart's sake

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pretoria - A staggering 6.1 million South Africans have a high blood pressure (BP) or are taking medication for hypertension, according to a recent South Africa Demographic and Health Survey.

As the country joins the rest of the world in commemorating World Hypertension Day, the Southern African Hypertension Society has embarked on the Know your Blood Pressure for Your Heart's Sake campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of this condition.

The campaign will place the spotlight on the importance of having regular BP checks and taking the necessary action to combat hypertension.

Observed annually on 17 May, the World Hypertension Day aims to raise awareness about high blood pressure and its consequences.

President of the Hypertension Society of Southern Africa, Professor Gavin Norton warned that hypertension affects one in every five adults, and is one of the leading causes of morbidity and death in adults over the age of 50 and 55.

"Hypertension often referred to as high blood pressure, is a silent killer, globally, seven million people die every year and there are 1.5 billion sufferers because of hypertension," said Norton.

He stressed the need to strive to reduce the risk factors for hypertension in our society and encouraged every adult over 18 years of age to have routine BP check-ups.

"We need to reduce our high rates of obesity, reduce salt intake, increase the intake of potassium by means of higher vegetable, fruit and lean meat intake as well as reduce high alcohol consumption."

"In addition, we need to motivate people, particularly those at high risk to have their BP checked regularly, the need for screening and early diagnosis must be stressed and persons on medication must be supported and encouraged to achieve maximum compliance levels," he said.

High blood pressure increases chances of having a stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease and early death. Normal blood pressure is measured at less than 120 over 80 while high blood pressure is a level of 140 over 90 or more.

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