Hypertension or High blood pressure as many know it is a “silent killer” that has remained a serious health challenge and grossly misunderstood condition in this part of the World and largely across the globe.

It is a chronic condition where the pressure in the blood vessels remain persistently high usually from 140/90mmHg and above, checked at least 4 hours apart in different positions.

According to WHO, approximately 1.28 billion adults between the age of 30-79 years have been diagnosed of Hypertension worldwide. Less than half(42%) of these adults have been diagnosed or are being treated.

In Nigeria, the estimated prevalence of Hypertension is said to be 38.1% with about 76.2 million Nigerians suffering from this condition.

Itt has also been found to be a major cause of premature death worldwide.

The data isn’t meant to scare you, it’s just to convince you on why you should take this article a bit more seriously.


While there are some risk factors we can do absolutely nothing about like: Age, sex, race and family history

There are others we can work on to improve such as:

  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyles
  • High dietary salt intake
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Smoking


Most people don’t experience any symptoms hence the term “silent killer”, however some people may notice vague symptoms like:

  • Severe headaches
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision or other vision changes
  • Anxiety
  • Abnormal heart rhythm

The only way to truly link any of these to hypertension is to have a blood pressure check from a healthcare professional.


Hypertension is not a curable disease but if managed properly can prevent a whole lot of complications like the dreaded Stroke or Heart attack. It is recommended to start management from the basics.

The Basics: Generally termed as lifestyle modifications

  1. Lose the “KG”: Losing up to 10kg reduces the systolic BP by about 5-20mmHg
  2. Reduce the salt in your diet to less than 1 teaspoon per day of salt
  3. Increase dietary intake of potassium by increasing intake of fruits and vegetables
  4. Quit smoking
  5. Engage in at least 30 minutes daily of aerobic exercises for most days
  6. Reduce dietary intake of fat

Combining two or more of these have shown to help reduce the blood pressure. However, this doesn’t undermine the need to visit a Physician for a proper diagnosis and a well tailored treatment plan.

Dr Imaobong Esien is a Medical Practitioner & volunteer with the Health Volunteers Nigeria Initiative

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