By Latrishka Thomas
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ since it usually displays no symptoms but can cause the deaths of many people worldwide.
World Hypertension Day was appropriately observed on October 17 under the theme ‘Measure Your Blood Pressure, Control It, Live Longer’.
Internist, Specialist in Nephrology and Hypertension Dr George Mansoor underscored the importance of this, noting that hypertension is perhaps the most common condition in Antigua and Barbuda.
He therefore appealed to all health care providers to make blood pressure testing part of their routine when examining patients.
“You really should have your blood pressure checked at every interaction with a health care provider and I appeal to all my colleagues across the spectrum of providing health care, to incorporate that into your practice, no matter what your specialty is.
“There is really a great value to be added by checking a person’s blood pressure who may be coming to you for a circumscribed reason. Frequently, we see persons detected that way,” he stated.
Dr Mansoor explained that “if you are not being checked you can have [high blood pressure] for many years … sadly, we see too many people who only discover the presence of the disease process when a complication has superseded and the complication presents to a health care provider,” he added.
The doctor also revealed that if one’s blood pressure is within normal range, “then it’s reasonable not to check it again for six to 12 months”.
However, for someone already diagnosed with hypertension, frequent monitoring is paramount.
He suggested that persons with elevated blood pressure should monitor the condition at least three to four days per week, “twice in the morning and twice in the evening”.
Once the patient’s blood pressure has recorded lower numbers, once a week would suffice, Dr Mansoor added, since self-monitoring can be a powerful therapeutic tool.
“Patients who monitor their blood pressure do actually experience a significant reduction in blood pressure even though their medication treatment doesn’t necessarily change,” he stated.
According to Dr Mansoor, lifestyle changes and medical treatment can cause an improvement in one’s blood pressure, but he said “the presence of hypertension is a complex biological trait; it is partly genetic; it is partly lifestyle and therefore we can attack some of the lifestyle parts, but the other parts are ingrained in us”.
He added, “Just exercising and say ‘well, me done with that medication dey’ isn’t gonna work,” as he emphasised that lifestyle changes do not work for everyone, and that in conjunction with the three pillars of health — good nutrition, good sleep, and physical activity — medication and monitoring are important.