5 ways High Blood Pressure destroys the body before it kills

Treating a heart Patient

High
blood pressure is particularly noted for its stealthy nature, so unlike many
diseases, the presence of high blood pressure may not show by tangible signs
and symptoms about which the sufferer can be aware.  Sometimes, the first indication of high blood
pressure in a victim is severe complications, such as stroke or death,
especially among people who do not routinely undergo medical check-up.  Hence the disease has attained the notorious
appellation of “the silent killer”.  Although hypertension sufferers may not feel
the presence of the disease, borne over time unchecked, high blood pressure can
wreck serious damage on a number of important organs and systems, which often
results in severe health problems and death. Severe complications of high blood
pressure include the following which will be discussed individually:


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1.      Cerebra – Vascular Accident (CVA),
commonly known as stroke.
2.      Kidney damage, leading to kidney failure
or inability to produce urine.
3.      Congestive Heart failure
4.      Mental deterioration.
5.      Visual disturbances.

A Prominent Politician in Nigeria & First Civilian Governor of Bayelsa State (Southern Nigeria) Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha (M) died of Heart Attack

The 5 agents of Mr.
Silent Killer
Stroke (or Brain
Attack)
 This is one of the most sudden and severe
complications of high blood pressure.  It
is often the cause of sudden death or disability from high blood pressure.  Stroke which is medically known as Cerebra – Vascular Accident (CVA) or brain attack is usually as a result of
a rupture of a blood vessel, usually a small artery in the brain, causing lack
of blood supply to affected part of the brain. At the same time, collection of
blood from the ruptured vessel may cause severe pressure on the brain.  If the affected vessel is fairly large or
plenty of blood escapes into the brain tissue, that means the stroke is severe,
and depending on the part of the brain involved, the person may die almost
immediately or shortly after.  This is
the common cause of death in sleep. 
Otherwise, any of the functions of the brain may be interfered with,
which may show in many ways, including paralysis of one side of the body.
High
blood pressure usually causes rupture of small blood vessels in the brain
because the brain tissue is very soft, almost as soft as pap (ogi).  As a result, the brain cannot provide support
for blood vessels as muscles and other structures do.  Under the pressure that hypertension or high
blood pressure exerts on the walls of arteries, weak sections develop in the
walls of small arteries in the brain which can easily stretch and rupture,
causing stroke.  When stroke happens on
the left side of the brain, it is the right side that gets paralyzed, and
vice-versa because each side of the brain controls the opposite sides of the
body.  Death in sleep as a result of
stroke frequently occurs because blood pressure is usually highest when lying
down than when sitting or standing, declining in that order.  So, without an immediate predisposing factor,
long standing high blood pressure, which has not been diagnosed or properly
managed, is more likely to result in death while asleep.
Kidney Damage

Mr. Hakeem Shodeinde, a Night Club entrepreneur fondly called ‘The General’ lost his kidney to High Blood Pressure

High
blood pressure that is not controlled with medication over a long period of
time gradually destroys the structures of the kidneys which form urine.  As a result, uncontrolled hypertension is one
of the commonest causes of kidney damage and renal failure.  Unfortunately, nothing can be done to change
kidney or renal failure caused by high blood pressure.
The
kidneys are the organs that form urine. 
Urine is the means by which the body gets rid of most of the toxins and
wastes produced by the various tissues and organs in the body.  When the kidneys fail, it means that they can
no longer form urine, therefore toxins and waste product pile up in the
body.  Obviously, such a person cannot
last more than a few miserable days as his or her body cells and tissues are
poisoned by the wastes they produce.
Heart Failure

A former Nigerian Head of State, General Sani Abacha lost his life to Heart Failure in 1998

We
have earlier observed that with high blood pressure, the lumen of the blood
vessels becomes narrower as the vessels are no longer elastic or able to
expand.  As a result, the heart has to
use extra force to be able to pump blood through the resistant vessels.  In addition, with more weight, the individual’s
total body area through which blood has to be pumped increases, requiring more
pumping work for the heart.  The workload
for the heart is thereby increased.  Very
often, this extra labor that the heart has to undertake makes it to become
larger in order to be able to cope.
However,
there is a limit to which the heart can adapt to carry out the extra labor
involved.  Soon, the heart is unable to
continue with the extra labor, so it becomes weaker and weaker until it is
unable to pump blood around the body effectively.  The heart is then said to fail. 
In heart failure, fluids pile up in different parts of the body as the
heart is no longer able to pump  blood
strongly enough to return all the blood to the heart and for the kidneys to
form enough urine to get rid of excess water and waste products from the body.
This is called congestive heart failure
because the lungs and other parts of the body become congested with fluids and
toxic substances.


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Consequently,
the legs of someone with congestive heart failure may swell with fluids in the
form of edema and/or the abdomen may
fill up with fluids.  Collection of
fluids in the lungs often makes breathing difficult and even minor exertion may
make the person feel weak and breathless as the heart is unable to meet the
extra demands that any exertion usually imposes.  Once the heart has started to fail, it cannot
be cured although with proper medical care the person can still live a long and
productive life.  Congestive heart
failure therefore leads to a slow but sure death, unless the victim is unable
to maintain continuous medical supervision, including complying with routine
check up and medication regimen.
Mental Deterioration

A prominent Politician in Nigeria, Chief Jimoh Ibrahim (M) has ‘Big Belle’ and very rich and affluent

Uncontrolled
high blood pressure causing rupture of blood vessels in the brain does not
always involve fairly large arteries to result in major bleeding and stroke.
Sometimes, mini blood vessels known as capillaries
are the vessels gradually damaged. Capillaries and the ruptures that occur are
usually so small that only very small amount of blood may escape from each
site, not enough to cause major problems as stroke.  However, the mini ruptures are usually
progressive, spreading to more parts of the brain.  In time, the brain as a whole undergoes
various kinds of degenerative changes as a result of inadequate circulation and
pressure from the blood that escaped from blood vessels.
For
example, the victim may develop premature loss of memory and other mental and
physical capacities like someone who is some eighty or more years old, even
though he might be in his forties or younger years. Often, they behave as if
they are mentally ill, unable to carry out simple mental functions like
remembering and proper reasoning. In effect, the person changes drastically
from what he had been known.  It is
usually very sad to see an erstwhile outstanding individual loss his
personality.  Unfortunately, such mental
deterioration is not reversible.
Visual Problems

The Body System

Like
the effects on the brain and kidneys, high blood pressure causes damage to the
capillaries in the eyes.  This also leads
to destruction of important structures of the eye and consequent gradual loss
of vision.  As with the brain and
kidneys, damaged tissues in the eyes and lost vision as a result of
hypertension are not reversible.
Symptoms of Advance
State of hypertension
Although
hypertension is generally known as the “silent killer” because it may not
manifest any symptoms before causing such havoc as stroke or death, advance
stages of the disease sometimes show certain symptoms, which unfortunately are
easily missed or misunderstood.  The most
prominent of the symptoms are:

The Heart

1.      Headache, especially early morning
headache.
2.      Blurred vision, sometimes accompanied by
dizziness.
3.      Spontaneous nose bleeding.
Anyone
who experiences any or a combination of the above symptoms should immediately
go to a doctor for check up as they can also be the only symptoms of an
imminent stroke.

Mr. Oluwabunmi Adedayo, a brilliant Nigerian entrepreneur lost his life to Heart Failure as a result of obesity

(From the Book; “Early and Sudden Death; the Price of Affluence among
Nigerians”
Read “The Rise &
Rise of Heart Attack in Naija” tomorrow on Asabeafrika)

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