How to manage Big Man Belle in good & bad times

Although
we have so far discussed the affluence of some Nigerians as a major factor in
their development of high blood pressure, we know that the socio-economic
status of the individual hardly remains the same.  The question then is “what happens when the
socio-economic conditions of the affluent changes”?  For any particular individual, a number of
changes frequently occur in his or her socio-economic status.  Such changes may be upward or downward in
economic fortune.  Either way, changes
often have a great deal of impact on the individual’s state of mind, pattern of
living and consequent development or course of an existing high blood pressure.


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It
is therefore relevant for us to examine such changes in the life of middle
class Nigerians and how high blood pressure should be managed under such
circumstances.  Generally, any changes in
an individual’s economic fortune either way may have significant negative
implications for development and course of high blood pressure.  This means therefore that any period of
changes in the individual’s economic fortune is a period when particular care
should be taken to prevent, monitor for or control an existing condition of
high blood pressure.
Managing Big Man Bele when
the Going is good
When
someone experiences significant favorable economic fortunes, such as a
promotion on the job or increased prosperity in business, this is obviously
time for happiness and celebration.  The
way people normally celebrate in our culture, and in most cultures for that
matter, is to eat more and drink more; that is ‘enjoy the fruit of your
achievement’, so to say.  If it is a
promotion, even after the celebration of the occasion, the advancement is
usually accompanied by extra money to spend and prestige to wallow in.  That means that the individual can afford to
eat more, drink more and receive more attention socially.  For the Nigerian, more good life has arrived,
which has to be lived!
This
is when most people start to eat more of the expensive foods they could not
previously afford on a regular basis. 
That often means eating more of such foods as eggs, chicken, goat and
other meat items more often.  It is
therefore time to grow or further enhance the big man belle!  As we have
already noted, more weight means better changes of developing hypertension. If
the person has already been hypertensive, the condition can get worse
drastically.  When things are going well
people tend to take life easy, such as neglecting going for check up and
conveniently forget to take medicines, especially with conditions like high
blood pressure which do not cause pain or any symptom.

“For most Nigerian
men, periods of more prosperity are often time to acquire new wives or
concubines with the attendant economic and psychological stress. The number of relatives
who look forward to you for help tends to multiply.  Not only that the individual has better
chances of putting on more weight, which increases his or her chances of
developing hypertension, if none is already present, more anxiety is imposed by
the increased number of dependants”.
For
most Nigerian men, periods of more prosperity are often time to acquire new
wives or concubines with the attendant economic and psychological stress. The
number of relatives who look forward to you for help tends to multiply.  Not only that the individual has better
chances of putting on more weight, which increases his or her chances of
developing hypertension, if none is already present, more anxiety is imposed by
the increased number of dependants.  The
combination of more weight and increased anxiety actually increased the
otherwise lucky person’s chances for more problems from high blood pressure to
stroke.  So, the welcome achievement of a
socio-economic bust can mean more health problem with hypertension.
Managing Big Man
Belle
when the Going is not so good
That
people experiencing economic prosperity often have more problem from high blood
pressure, as explained above, does not necessarily mean that it is the opposite
when they experience a condition of socio-economic downturn.  On the contrary, a person going through a
hard economic condition may have a higher chance of serious problem from high
blood pressure, especially if that person has already “made it”.  This applies more so to the average middle
class Nigerian.  For example, if a senior
civil servant is suddenly retired, as has become the norm in many parts of the
country, the sudden down-turn in his/her socio-economic conditions invariably
imposes immense sadness and uncertainty for the future.  This usually creates a high level of anxiety,
which is bound to drive up the blood pressure. 
Even
if that individual had not developed high blood pressure previously, he/she is
very likely to develop it then.  If the
person has been hypertensive, the condition is bound to get worse.  This is not only from the added anxiety but
also because the person is most likely to neglect the self at such a time. That
is the time when most people may get so depressed that nothing is of interest
to them, including their own health.  It
is not unusual to hear someone in that condition make such statements as: “This
is the least of my worries now”.  “What
is the use going to the doctor or taking medicines?”  “I don’t care any more!” And that is the time
when the individual actually needs to be more particular; that is, see the
doctor more often and take his/her medications more diligently.  However, most people in that condition would
rather care less, especially about a condition like hypertension that does not
cause them any pain. That is the time when efforts regarding high blood
pressure may be viewed by the individual involved as unnecessary waste of time,
energy and resources.  It is also a time
when relatives and other loved ones have to show more concern in the monitor
and management of the victim’s high blood pressure and other health conditions
more closely.
I
recall that recently when a large number of teachers and other civil servants
were suddenly retired from the public service of my state of origin, reports
were rife of the many retirees who died suddenly or without obvious
illness.  The tendency was for people to
conclude that they were dying from hunger or the bad news of being out of
work.  The fact is that most of such
deaths could be due to aggravated hypertension or heart attack in those who
were predisposed or had existing conditions.
From the Book; “Early and Sudden Death; the Price of Affluence among
Nigerians”
(Read “How High Blood
Pressure won award of Silent Killer of the year” tomorrow on Asabeafrika)

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