Like many people that don’t have much information about the condition, Sibanyoni never had her blood pressure checked until she became seriously sick and was diagnosed with hypertension when her BP reading hit 140/90.
“I still didn’t think much of it until it got worse and I had difficulty breathing, chest pains and an irregular heartbeat. By that time, I knew this was something more serious than I imagined,” said Lucia.
According to community nurse Zanele Zwane: “High blood pressure does not only affect elderly people. The condition is caused when the pressure of the blood in the arteries rises to a point where it can cause illness or problems with the heart, kidneys and other parts of the body.”
Arteries are the blood vessels that carry oxygen from the heart to the rest of the body. Unknowingly, people who suffer from hypertension can experience quiet damage to their bodies for years before symptoms develop, and because many don’t have much information they continue to put their health at risk by making health poor choices.
“It is advisable for people to have their blood pressure checked regularly, especially as they get older,” Zwane said.
The exact cause of hypertension is not known, but factors that contribute to it include: excessive smoking and alcohol consumption; diabetes and chronic kidney disease; being overweight, especially around the stomach area; not exercising or participating in any physical activity; a family history of hypertension; high salt intake; stress and age.
Symptoms of hypertension include tiredness and confusion; severe headaches; pounding in the chest, neck or ears; blood in the urine and dizziness.
“I knew I had something seriously wrong with me and so I went to my local clinic for help. I was immediately put on a combination of medications to help me lower the high blood pressure,” explained Sibanyoni.
“When patients are diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension) we are always clear to them about the risks of the condition and advise them about the importance of changing their lifestyle. We also try to make sure they adhere to the combination of medication given to them and tell them to never stop treatment without informing a health practitioner and to go for regular check-ups,” said Zwane.
Sibanyoni said “Other than the cost of healthy food, the most challenging part I have encountered is adjusting to new good habits. I was used to foods with lots of spicy, salt and oil but I am happy to say I have managed to lose weight, stop taking salt and I get regular exercise and follow a healthy diet. My high blood pressure has lowered and I am living a normal life.”