Contributed by Dr Tan Chong Hiok, cardiologist. You’ve probably heard about hypertension, or high blood pressure. But did you know that most people with high blood pressure do not experience any symptoms, even if their blood pressure levels are dangerously high?
What exactly is high blood pressure?
Our hearts are constantly pumping blood around our body, through our arteries. Because the blood is being pushed around by your heart, your blood will then push against the walls of your arteries. So when the force at which the blood hits your artery walls is too high, you have high blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure will damage the walls of your arteries, and in turn cause potentially severe health problems. Because it shows absolutely no symptoms, most instances of high blood pressure go undiagnosed. A patient’s first symptom may be that first heart attack, that first stroke or that first kidney failure. Although some patients complain of headaches, headaches are actually not a symptom of high blood pressure. This usually happens because the patient is stressed, which leads to a headache, and the stress in turns raises their blood pressure. Although high blood pressure cannot be cured, the good news is, treating it is usually simple. Just take medicine daily. Think of high blood pressure to be like a spring. As long as your finger presses down on the spring, it stays compressed. The moment you let go, it uncoils and bounces upwards. So as long as you take your medicine, your blood pressure is controlled. Once you stop, the pressure goes back up. There are many classes of medicine for high blood pressure. The side effects are rare but benefit is high. Your doctor will be able to find the medicine that suits you. Do get your blood pressure checked regularly. This simple procedure could save you from health complications in the future.
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- 1 The incidence of hypertension in adults from 18-69 years old is about 23.5% in 2010 by the MOH estimate (Source: http://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/statistics/Health_Facts_Singapore/Disease_Burden.html)