The Silent Killer!


Hypertension is sometimes called ‘the silent killer’ because people who have it are often symptom free.

Hypertension is the term used to signify high blood pressure or elevation in blood pressure either from an unidentified cause(primary hypertension) or an identified cause(secondary hypertension).

Primary hypertension is also called essential hypertension because it denotes high blood pressure from an unidentified cause while secondary hypertension is high blood pressure from an identified cause e.g kidney disease.

Most people who have high blood pressures exceeding 140/90mmHg are usually unaware of their elevated blood pressure. However,once identified, elevated blood pressure should be monitored at regular intervals because hypertension is a lifelong condition.

Blood pressure has three levels namely:


  • Optimal
  • Normal


  • High normal


Optimal<120    /<80
Normal<130   /<85
High normal130-139   /85-89

Stage 1

140-159   /90-99
 Stage 2160-179   /100-109
 Stage 3 ≥180   / ≥110

So considering the chart above, hypertension is a systolic blood pressure greater than 140 mmHg and a diastolic pressure greater than 90 mm Hg over a sustained period, based on the average of two or more blood pressure measurements taken in two or more contacts with the health care provider after an initial screening.

However, hypertension can be prevented and managed with lifestyle modifications and they include:

  • Lose weight if overweight.
  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than 1 oz (30 mL) ethanol (e.g 24 oz [720 mL] beer, 10 oz [300 mL] wine, or 2 oz [60 mL] 100-proof whiskey) per day or 0.5 oz (15 mL) ethanol per day
  • Increase aerobic physical activity (30 to 45 minutes most days of the week).
  • Reduce sodium intake to no more than 100 mmol per day       (   2.4 g sodium or 6 g sodium chloride).
  • Maintain adequate intake of dietary potassium                                  (approximately 90 mmol per day).
  • Maintain adequate intake of dietary calcium and magnesium for general health.
  • Stop smoking and reduce intake of dietary saturated fat and cholesterol for overall cardiovascular health.

N.B Please see a doctor for medical management once a diagnosis of hypertension has been established.


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