Getting the jump on high blood pressure


If you are 18 years or older you should be getting regular blood pressure checks.

Statistics show that nearly half of all South Africans with hypertension have never been screened, so they remain undiagnosed and unaware of their condition. This leaves them at an increased risk for heart disease and strokes.

According to Dr Craig Nossel, head of Vitality Wellness, the prevalence of high blood pressure is due to people's lifestyles, the food that we eat and lack of exercise. Figures from the Heart and Stroke Foundation reveal that 45% of all South Africans have high blood pressure. They've also found that a staggering eight out of 10 people over the age of 50 have high blood pressure.

From August, in line with recent clinical guidelines set by the American Heart Association, there will be an adjustment to the in-range blood pressure measurement to less than 130/80 mm Hg.

Working closely with health and wellness experts, we've found that high blood pressure, known as hypertension, is still a huge problem for many South Africans. It's called the silent killer because most people don't realise they have it until they’ve had a heart attack or stroke.

As a result we've changed the healthy range for blood pressure to a reading of less than 130mmHg/80mmHg from the previous less than 140mmHg/90mmHg reading. This allows for the earlier detection of potential high blood pressure, meaning that members may have a better chance at managing risk factors and making the lifestyle changes needed to prevent the onset of high blood pressure.

Biggest challenges facing blood pressure screenings

Dr Nossel says that the biggest challenge to getting people to have their screenings done is that they generally don't notice high blood pressure and feel fine, so they assume nothing is wrong. Read more about this here: You could have high blood pressure and not know it.

Dr Nossel says that the secondary challenge is that people who are diagnosed with the illness and put on medication, often don't take the medication.

If you are 18 years or older you should be getting regular blood pressure checks. It's crucial that you are tested if you have a family history of hypertension, stroke or heart disease. And as you age, it's very important to have your blood pressure checked.

"We need to look after ourselves, we only have one body," says Dr Nossel. So don't wait until it's too late, silence the silent killer by having your blood pressure tested today. Have your screening done at a Discovery Wellness Day or any provider in the Vitality Wellness Network.

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