Hypertension is the leading cause of death at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra. A consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at the National Cardiothoracic Centre at the hospital, Professor Mark Tettey, who disclosed this, said the condition was the main cause of heart diseases in adults at the Cardiothoracic Centre.
“Majority of the kidney problems we are seeing today are due to hypertension. Hypertension is a condition where the blood pressure is persistently high. The kidneys are supposed to help regulate the blood pressure, but if the pressure is uncontrollably high, then the kidneys become one of the targeted organs that are gradually destroyed permanently,” he stated in an interview with the Daily Graphic.
Prof. Tettey expressed concern that “when you talk about heart diseases in adults, especially in young adults, it is hypertension. I have seen young adults of less than 30 years with hypertension. Preventing hypertension is the first thing to talk about if we want to deal with heart diseases in adults”.
The condition, he said, was when the blood pressure was consistently higher than 140/90, adding that it was a very dangerous condition.
“In most cases of hypertension, we don’t know the cause and because we don’t know the cause, we can only control it by medication,” he stated.
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He called on the public to go for regular check-ups at least once or twice a year, so that if hypertension was diagnosed, it could be controlled early.
“When hypertension starts, you will not know. It doesn’t announce itself. You only know you have hypertension when it has been there for a longer period and you begin to show symptoms and signs of problems, with organs already permanently destroyed as a result,” he said.
He mentioned some of the symptoms as breathlessness, getting tired easily, palpitation (feeling your heart beat), headache and pains in the legs after walking.
The consultant cardiothoracic surgeon stressed that any organ that hypertension destroyed was irrecoverable, saying: “If it destroys the brain vessels, one can get stroke; if it destroys the eyes, one can go blind, and if it destroys the heart, which often happens, one can get either a heart attack or heart failure.”
He noted that for men, hypertension could affect their libido and eventually make them impotent by destroying some critical vessels.
Prof. Tettey said to prevent the condition, one had to work on one’s lifestyle — one should have enough sleep, check his or her eating habits and reduce stress, both at work and at home.
Women should also be careful with the skin lightening pomades they used because some contained chemicals that made them hypertensive or unresponsive to anti-hypertensive drugs, he said.
Prof. Tettey advised the public to exercise regularly, since it was good for the heart. They should also watch their diet and salt intake.
For those who are hypertensive, he encouraged them to take their drugs religiously.
He advised those who were inconsistent with anti-hypertensive drugs that it was bad to start the medication and only take it when they felt like doing that.