I believe that almost, if not all, will agree that OFWs share the same purpose why they have decided to work abroad—to earn a living and to become financially stable to support all the needs of their families. However, for the same reason, we sometimes forget to take care of ourselves. For some, in order to save and send more money, they have neglected and compromised their own health by eating unhealthy foods like canned goods at ang walang kamatayang- ITLOG, almost everyday, kasi mura lang daw. Due to this, the most common worldwide health problem OFWs’ suffer is the very popular HYPERTENSION, sa Tagalog- Altapresyon at sa Bisaya naman- HB, Hay Blad…hehehe… This disease is not new at all but why is it that, every year, more and more people acquire this. It is, actually, the leading cause of stroke and the major cause of heart attack which eventually leads to death. It is even called the Silent Killer. That is why it is really important that we always remind and educate ourselves in order to avoid and prevent ourselves from suffering from this kind of condition.
WHAT IS HYPERTENSION?
Hypertension is the medical term used to describe high blood pressure.
Blood pressure refers to the force of blood pushing against artery walls as it courses through the body. Arteries are vessels that carry blood from the pumping heart to all the tissues and organs of the body. Like air in a tire or water in a hose, blood fills arteries to a certain capacity. Just as too much air pressure can damage a tire or too much water pushing through a garden hose can damage the hose, high blood pressure can threaten healthy arteries and lead to life-threatening conditions such as heart disease and stroke.
A blood pressure reading appears as two numbers. The first and higher of the two is a measure of systolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and fills them with blood. The second number measures diastolic pressure, or the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats.
- Normal blood pressure rises steadily from about 90/60 at birth to about 120/80 in a healthy adult.
- High blood pressure (hypertension) is when your blood pressure is 140/90 mmHg or above
- If your blood pressure numbers are 120/80 or higher, but below 140/90, it is called pre-hypertension.
Many factors can affect blood pressure, including:
- How much water and salt you have in your body
- The condition of your kidneys, nervous system, or blood vessels
- The levels of different body hormones
You are more likely to be told your blood pressure is too high as you get older. This is because your blood vessels become stiffer as you age. When that happens, your blood pressure goes up. High blood pressure increases your chance of having a stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney disease, and early death.
You have a higher risk of high blood pressure if you:
- Are African American
- Are obese
- Are often stressed or anxious
- Drink too much alcohol (more than one drink per day for women and more than two drinks per day for men)
- Eat too much salt in your diet
- Have a family history of high blood pressure
- Have diabetes
Most of the time, no cause of high blood pressure is found. This is called essential hypertension.
High blood pressure that is caused by another medical condition or medication is called secondary hypertension. Secondary hypertension may be due to:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Disorders of the adrenal gland (pheochromocytoma or Cushing syndrome)
- Pregnancy (see: preeclampsia)
- Medications such as birth control pills, diet pills, some cold medications, and migraine medications
- Narrowed artery that supplies blood to the kidney (renal artery stenosis)
SYMPTOMS OF HYPERTENSION
One of the most dangerous aspects of hypertension is that you may not know that you have it. There are generally no symptoms of high blood pressure, so you usually don’t feel it. In fact, nearly one-third of people who have hypertension don’t know it. The only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis. This is especially important if you have a close relative who has high blood pressure.
If your blood pressure is extremely high, there may be certain symptoms to look out for, including:
- Severe headache
- Fatigue or confusion
- Vision problems
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Blood in the urine
- Pounding in your chest, neck, or ears
If you have any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately. You could be having a hypertensive crisis that could lead to a heart attack or stroke.
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
Hypertension is a disorder characterized by chronically high blood pressure. It must be monitored, treated and controlled by medication, lifestyle changes, or a combination of both.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet, including potassium and fiber, and drink plenty of water.
- Exercise regularly — at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day.
- If you smoke, quit — find a program that will help you stop.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink — one drink a day for women, two a day for men.
- Limit the amount of sodium (salt) you eat — aim for less than 1,500 mg per day.
- Reduce stress — try to avoid things that cause you stress. You can also try meditation or yoga.
- Stay at a healthy body weight — find a weight-loss program to help you, if you need
Your health care provider can help you find programs for losing weight, stopping smoking, and exercising. You can also get a referral from your doctor to a dietitian, who can help you plan a diet that is healthy for you.
There are many different medicines that can be used to treat high blood pressure. Often, a single blood pressure drug may not be enough to control your blood pressure, and you may need to take two or more drugs. It is very important that you take the medications prescribed to you. If you have side effects, your health care provider can substitute a different medication. You must not self-medicate. Always consult your doctor before taking or stopping any medications prescribed to ensure therapeutic effect and to avoid any complications or adverse effects.
A THOUGHT TO REMEMBER
- An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure
Let us all take care of our health. We are all working to support our families. However, if we get sick and become incapable of working, how can we still be able to provide for them. Before we take care of others, we must take care of ourselves first. We can never give what we don’t have. Health is wealth. If we want to live longer years and be able to spend more time with our loved ones, we must live a healthy lifestyle.
Drafted by : Maria Glona Jumalon Kitane (OFW Nurse in Jeddah)