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Sep 22, 2021

Cardiovascular disease and cerebrovascular disease are the leading causes of death and disability in South Africa. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa (HSFSA), these diseases are responsible for almost 1 in 6 deaths, claiming more lives than all cancers combined.

The HSFSA further asserts that “in SA more than 1 in 3 adults live with high blood pressure and it is responsible for 1 in every 2 strokes and 2 in every 5 heart attacks.”

What is high blood pressure?

Hypertension or high blood pressure as it is commonly known is a condition in which the long-term force of the blood against your artery walls is high enough that it may eventually cause health problems, such as heart disease. When left untreated high blood pressure generally leads to three major illnesses, namely strokes, heart attacks and kidney disease.

What causes high pressure?

Often referred to as a lifestyle disease, hypertension is caused by a number of things which are both lifestyle related and hereditary in some cases. Below is a list of things to consider when trying to avoid high blood pressure:

  • Being overweight or obese – If your cholesterol is too high, it builds up on the walls of your arteries.
  • Lack of physically activity people who are inactive tend to have higher heart rates.
  • Too much salt (sodium) in your diet – having too much salt can cause your body to retain fluid, which increases blood pressure.
  • Excessive drinking and tobacco use – heavy drinking can damage your heart and tobacco chemicals can damage the lining of your artery walls.
  • Other chronic conditions – other chronic conditions like diabetes and kidney failure can also cause high blood pressure.
  • Stress – high levels of stress can lead to a temporary increase in blood pressure.

High blood pressure can also be passed on genetically. Family history must also be taken into consideration when looking at the causes.

How do you know if you have high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is known as a 'silent killer' because there are rarely any symptoms or visible signs to warn you that your blood pressure is high. In fact, most people only discover they are suffering from high blood pressure by chance.

Way forward

Strokes and heart attacks can be prevented by a change in lifestyle and by taking your hypertension medication consistently as prescribed by your doctor. Bestmed offers all its members access to one Health Assessment (HA) each year as part of our Bestmed Tempo wellness programme. You can complete your HA at any Dis-Chem, Clicks, Van Heerden Pharmacy, Alpha Pharm or Sparkport pharmacies, simply call and book your appointment.

Your HA will indicate your blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels. If there are any concerns the nurses at the pharmacy will refer you to a doctor who will then help you with further a diagnosis and if necessary, a treatment plan.

In the unfortunate event that you are required to take chronic medication, Bestmed provides an extensive range of disease management programmes for various chronic conditions. Cardiovascular conditions like high blood pressure are covered as Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMBs).

 

Source:

Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa. Available on: https://www.heartfoundation.co.za/blood-pressure/

Mayo Clinic. Available on: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/symptoms-causes/syc-20373410

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