Approximately 25% of adults in Cyprus are hypertensive and it is estimated that one in three are not aware of their condition. Meanwhile, only half of those who know about their condition try to treat it.
According to the International Society of Hypertension, increased blood pressure is the leading risk for death and disability globally as highlighted in the recent global burden of disease study and emphasised by the World Health Organisation on World Health Day.
“One of the major barriers to effective control of hypertension is simply that people are not aware their blood pressure is high.
“Yet simple affordable steps to incorporate routine blood pressure assessment into community programmes and workplaces as well as all health care settings could play a major role.”
World Hypertension Day, annually celebrated on May 17, provides an opportunity to emphasise the need to improve prevention and control of hypertension. The Campaign ‘Know your blood pressure’ will be repeated annually for the next five years to facilitate the development of programmes to screen for hypertension.
The Cyprus Society of Hypertension will join other worldwide associations in marking the day and raising awareness on the dangers or hypertension with free blood pressure tests today at the Mall of Cyprus in Nicosia and on Saturday, May 17 at My Mall in Limassol.
Both events will take place from 12pm to 5pm.
In addition, a mobile medical unit equipped with the necessary medical supplies and equipment will travel on a ‘Trip without pressure’ in the Larnaca district, offering free blood tests and raising public awareness with the distribution of information leaflets.
The route will pass through the villages of Xylotympou – Xylofagou – Avgorou – Liopetri on Sunday, May 18.
All events related to Hypertension Week are organised by the Cyprus Society of Hypertension and are sponsored by AstraZeneca and Alector pharmaceutical companies.
What is blood pressure?
So what exactly is blood pressure? Basically, it’s the pressure of blood in the arteries. If it’s too high it can narrow the arteries and blood vessels, leading to brain or heart damage, or clots forming.
In about 5% of people with high blood pressure, there’s an underlying cause - usually kidney disease or hormone disorders.
The remaining 95% have what’s termed as essential hypertension, usually caused by lifestyle factors or genetics.
There’s a common belief that being under stress sends blood pressure soaring, while acute stress can indeed cause an acute rise in blood pressure - so a patient might get stressed about having their blood pressure taken and their blood pressure might rise temporarily - there’s no convincing evidence that chronic stress, over a long term, causes chronic high blood pressure.
A single high blood pressure reading isn’t enough to diagnose the condition, as the rise may just be temporary and quickly return to normal.
But if repeated tests consistently give high readings, one of the three main classes of blood pressure medication (usually prescribed according to age) may be given.
Know Your Numbers
√ Blood pressure numbers show how hard the blood is pushing against the sides of blood vessels as it travels round the body.
√ The first number in a blood pressure measurement of, for example, 120/80mmHg is the systolic pressure, when the heart pushes blood around the body. The second number is the diastolic pressure, when the heart relaxes.
√ Blood pressure usually ranges between 90 to 250 for the top (systolic) number, and 60 to 140 for the bottom (diastolic) number.
√ The ideal healthy blood pressure is 120/80 or less.
√ The level used to diagnose stage one hypertension is 140/90mmHg and stage two is over 160/100mmHg