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Health & Fitness November 14, 2017

The Silent Killer

Why people go and seek medical advice? The reason for this is that they suffer from the symptoms of the underlying diseases. These symptoms cause them concern, uneasy feeling, feeling not well. They want to get rid of these symptoms and want to feel better again.


Heart disease can cause breathlessness or chest pain, lung diseases can cause cough, breathlessness and so forth. All diseases have symptoms associated with them.


If there is a disease which does not have symptoms, then do people want to get treatment for this? Answer to this is how to convince people to take medications for a disease which does not have symptoms. The treatment might cause side effects which exhibit in form of symptoms.


The disease I am taking about is high blood pressure (medical term is hypertension). This in majority of people does not cause any symptoms. Therefore, it is called “Silent killer”. If untreated it has devastating effects on different organs in the body. It effects brain, heart, kidneys and to lesser extent the eyes. The effects on these organs are very dangerous and concerning. It can cause strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure. Once these organs are affected then the damage is permanent. The best approach is to avoid having these harmful effects and to
prevent these.


The question arises how to make the diagnosis in first place. It seems quite simple that you go to doctor or a nurse and they measure your blood pressure and if it is high then you have high blood pressure. No, it’s not true. One cannot make diagnosis of high blood pressure by recording one blood pressure recording. It needs to be done on few occasions, at different times and in different circumstances. The best test is to record 24 hour’s blood pressure. This machine once applied to your arm records your BP every 15 minutes during awake hours and every 30 minutes during sleep. You carry on your day to day activities while machine is doing its job. The results give average readings of blood pressure and then diagnosis is correctly made.


If somebody is found to have high blood pressure, then they need treatment in forms of tablets. This is usually lifelong treatment. The doctors keep changing the tablets or their dosage as per the blood pressure response. Good blood pressure control keeps away the harmful effects as risk of stroke or heart attack at bay. The treatment serves as barriers to the floods.


You also need to lose weight, do regular exercise, cut down on salt intake, refrain from smoking and drink alcohol in moderation. 


My advice to you is to make sure you get proper medical check-up. If your doctor diagnoses you with high blood pressure, please take his/her advise very seriously. Your doctor will also arrange some tests as well including blood tests, urine tests, x rays, ultrasound scans etc. It is to make sure that your high blood pressure is not due to any other disease. In majority of the people (more than 95%) no underlying cause is found. This is called in medical terms “Essential hypertension”. Please take care of your health. It is your wealth.


Dr Intesar H Malik, Consultant Physician, Gisborne Hospital. Private practice:Skin Deep Clinic, Gisborne | 06 863 2688 | | 188 Cobden St, Gisborne

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