columnBy Momodou Faal
Hello and a warm welcome to another edition of the Health Promotion.
We would like to bring you a chat we had with a health expert on hypertention, a Non-Communicable Disease.
Dr Omar Jagne is the managing director of AfricMed Limited and also the vice chairman of The Gambia Medical and Dental Council on Hypertension.
Dr Jagne explained that every living person has a blood pressure and it is this pressure that allows the blood to circulate around the body. He added that blood pressure varies through out the day, going up during times of activity and down when the person is relaxed.
Defining hypersion, Dr said it is the name given to the condition when the blood pressure is persistently high, noting that the high pressure puts an excess strain on the heart, blood vessels, kidneys and other organs.
Blood pressure, he went on, is influenced by a number of factors. He imformed that a diagnosis of hypertension would only be made after two readings have been taken on at least two separate occasions with the person sitting down and relaxed.
He pointed out that a small number of people have what is called Secondary Hypertension, which means that there is an underlying cause of their high blood pressure. However, he noted, for most people there is no definite cause for their high blood pressure and doctors call this Primary or Essential Hypertension.
Dr Jagne revealed that some groups of people with certain lifestyles or hereditary factors are most likely to develop hypertension. While there are some with a family history of high blood pressure, some, he stressed, get hypertension due to unhealthy lifestyles. "If you are overweight, eating too much salt and not enough fruits and vegetables, doing little exercise, drinking too much alcohol and caffeine or smoke, you are likely to have high blood pressure," he warned. Stress and old age, he said can also lead to hypertension.
He thus advised people to avoid unhealthy lifestyles and engaged themselves in regular exercise.
Commenting on the symptoms of the disease, Dr Jagne said usually the way to know if someone has high blood pressure is to have it measured, saying that most people cannot tell if their blood pressure is high.
The managing director of AfricMed Limited recommended that all adult should have their blood pressure measured regularly and those with high normal values or with other risk factors such as diabetes or smoking should be measured at least annually.
Commenting further on the effects, the health expert said it is important not to ignore high blood pressure, noting that the complications of uncontrolled high blood pressure cause deaths and severe disability from heart attacks, stroke and kidney damage.
Dr went on to urge people to give up smoking, to eat a food low in saturated fats and high fibre and avoid eating salty, processed foods.