Hypertension – “The Silent Killer”

Blood pressure is the measurement of the force of the circulating blood against the walls of the arteries to pump the blood through the body. Most of this pressure comes from the work done by the heart by pumping blood through the circulatory system.  The heart is known as the body’s pump and its job is to pump oxygen and nutrient rich blood to organs and tissues around the body.

Hypertension is the elevation of the blood pressure. High blood pressure.

How is blood pressure measured?

The blood pressure is taken as a numeric figure over another figure e.g. 120/80mmHg. The top reading is known as the Systolic Blood Pressure and the bottom reading is known as the Diastolic reading.

The blood pressure is taken as one number (the Systolic Blood Pressure) over another number (as the Diastolic reading) e.g. 120/80mmHg.

Systolic Blood Pressure

The Systolic reading measures the pressure when the heart contracts on a beat. The heart contraction squeezes blood out the heart through your arteries to reach the required organs.

Diastolic Blood Pressure

This is the force exerted on the heart when the heart is at rest, between contracting and the heart fills with blood

The mmHg at the back of the reading is how blood pressure is measured, millimeters of mercury.

Blood pressure is measured with an apparatus called a sphygmomanometer. A cuff is placed around the upper arm and inflated until the circulation is cut off. A small valve is turned and then the cuff is deflated and the examiner will hear a beat and then this is the systolic blood pressure. When the last beat is heard this is the diastolic reading.

Blood pressure is dependent on

  • Weight
  • Physical Activity
  • Underlying medical conditions

What is Hypertension?

Hypertension is when the blood pressure reading is above normal due to the force of blood on the artery wall being high. One can have high blood pressure without symptoms and that is why it is called the ‘silent killer’.

A normal blood pressure reading is considered to be


Hypertension is classified in various stages dependent on the reading

  • Mild 140/90mmHg to 159/99mmHg
  • Moderate 160/100mmHg to 179/109mmHg
  • Severe 180/110mmHg  and above

When the blood pressure is extremely high the person can present with the following symptoms:

  • Severe headache
  • Fatigue or confusion
  • Vision problems
  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Swollen feet
  • Stroke and heart attack

If you experience any of the above seek medical attention immediately.

Causes of hypertension

  • Existing medical conditions
    • Heart disease
    • Diabetes
    • Kidney Disease
    • High cholesterol levels
  • Body weight – being overweight you are putting more strain on the heart to perform it function
  • Alcohol use
  • Tobacco use – the chemical in tobacco can damage the lining of the arteries and thus causing them to narrow and increasing the blood pressure.
  • Lack of physical activity. Activity helps you keep your weight down and increases the blood flow
  • Stress
  • Family history of hypertension make you more prone to developing blood pressure problems
  • Diet high in salt – salt retains water and increases your blood pressure
  • Diet low in potassium – potassium helps to balance the sodium in your cells.


To reduce your blood pressure there are lifestyle changes that you can make that will help reduce your blood pressure;

  • Lifestyle changes
    • Healthy diet low in fats and salt
    • Exercising regularly
    • Decrease weight
  • Stop smoking,
  • Reduce or stop consuming alcohol if the blood pressure is severe,
  • Medication can be prescribed by a medical practitioner if severe,

Hypertension in the workplace

In your workplace it can be very dangerous working with an uncontrolled blood pressure and may also influence your fitness to work and you may be excluded from working at all. Having a high blood pressure will exclude you from being fit for the follow jobs until the blood pressure is control and within acceptable limits

  • Driving
  • Operating Machines
  • Working in Hot environments
  • Working at heights.

You only have one heart and you are the only one who can take care of it.

Author :

Sr. Belinda Walters-Girout