High Blood

By Cristina Montoya

Covid-19 has caused my blood to rocket through the roof. I can’t go one day now without it giving serious problems.

Now ‘ve got lots of spare time I decided to research about it so I could help myself more as the doctors are already too busy to worry about me.

Here’s some of the things I found out:

High blood pressure affects almost 24 percent of Filipinos aged over 20, or about 14 million people, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

Unfortunately, studies have shown that about 19 percent of Filipinos with blood pressure problems are unaware that they have them, and these are the people who are most likely to suffer associated health problems. The DOH says that high blood is the leading cause of illness and a precipitating factor in premature deaths in the country.

Measuring blood pressure is the only way to know how effectively the heart is working to pump blood around the body. If the heart and blood vessels are working efficiently, the blood pressure is normal. But if the heart has to work very hard to pump blood around the body, then blood pressure goes up.

Blood pressure is composed of two measurements. The first recording is called the systolic pressure which measures the force the heart must apply to pump blood around the body. This indicates how flexible or stiff the blood vessels are. When taking this measurement, a cuff placed around the arm is inflated until the pressure it exerts stops blood flow.

The second recording is called diastolic pressure. The cuff is deflated and the pressure is then measured when the heart is resting between beats.

Blood pressure changes throughout the day. It is generally lower at night, when you are relaxing or asleep, and higher during the day with exercise or exertion, while smoking a cigarette, if anxious, stressed or excited, and in cold weather.

Certain medications can also cause high blood. Examples include birth control pills, cold remedies, decongestants, over-the-counter pain relievers, some prescription drugs, and illegal drugs (particularly shabu).

High blood is also common among obese people, heavy drinkers and smokers, and women who are taking birth control pills. People who have diabetes, gout or kidney disease are more likely to have it than those who don’t.

There are patients who develop symptoms such as severe headaches, fatigue or confusion, vision problems, chest pains, difficulty in breathing, an irregular heartbeat, blood in the urine, and pounding in the chest, neck or ears.

This can lead to complications such as heart attacks or strokes (these are the top killers in the Philippines today), aneurysms, heart failure, weakened and narrowed blood vessels in the kidneys, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes, trouble with memory and understanding, and dementia.

The good thing is that high blood can be treated if discovered early. There is a wide range of drugs that your doctor can prescribe to bring your blood pressure down.

Kids are not spared from high blood. Although it is most common in adults, kids may be at risk, too. For some kids, high blood pressure is caused by problems with kidneys or heart. But for a growing number of kids, poor lifestyle habits, such as unhealthy diet, obesity and lack of exercise, contribute to high blood pressure.

An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure, goes a familiar saying. On top of a list from the World Health Organization (WHO) is to stop smoking. About 28 percent of Filipinos aged 15 and above currently smoke.

Another is reducing intake of salt and fatty foods. A person’s average salt intake is between nine and 12 grams per day. Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products.

Proper exercise is also important. To stay in shape, we need to do regular aerobic exercise or walk for at least 30 minutes a day

Limiting alcohol intake is also recommended. A maximum of three alcoholic drinks a day for men and two for women is recommended.

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