- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
High Blood Pressure. Africa's Curse
This article tries to reveal the link between people of African descent and their susceptibility to high blood pressure. It explains the vulnerable groups, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, consequences of untreated high blood pressure, preventive measures and behavioral changes among victims in an attempt to ensure longevity of life among the afflicted groups of people and those who are prone to this condition.
What is High Blood Pressure?
All human beings have blood flowing through their veins. As the heart pumps blood through the circulatory system, blood is compelled to squeeze through the veins linking up with other parts of the body.
When our veins restrict the flow of blood, the push of blood in our veins increases as the heart continues pumping. If the blood pressure remains abnormally high, the end result is High Blood Pressure or Hypertension.
Monitoring your blood pressure
The U.S Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The American Heart Association and popular medical journals reveal that the incidence of high blood pressure is more rampant among people of African origin or descent, unlike among Caucasians. While one in every four Americans (25%) has high blood pressure, one in every three Africans (33.33%) has hypertension. This implies that Africans and people of African descent, including the Diaspora, are more likely to come down with high blood pressure compared to whites. There is no justifiable reason for this phenomenon.
Studies have documented that blacks are much more likely to get high blood pressure earlier in life than their white counterparts. This places the entire African continent and those of African descent at risk with regard to hypertension. Most medical cases involving kidney problems, strokes and heart attacks in Africa may have a link to high blood pressure. Half of all cases of stroke-related mortality in sub-Saharan Africa are attributed to high blood pressure, with the incidence increasing with age in both men and women who mainly live in urban regions.
Common symptoms associated with high blood pressure are
i) General pain
Some patients do not exhibit any signs of pain or discomfort despite having been diagnosed with high blood pressure.
Checking blood pressure
A medical practitioner will detect high blood pressure by wrapping a cuff around a patient’s arm. The cuff will be inflated by squeezing air from a plastic ball adjoined to the cuff, causing the cuff to swell, thereby enabling the measurement of the force of blood against the cuff. The officer then reads the attached meter to register the patient’s blood pressure. Normal blood pressure should always fall below 120/80mm Hg (millimeters of mercury). Any measure above this is considered to be abnormal. Abnormally high levels of blood pressure can reach 140/90 mm Hg.
High blood pressure cannot be cured. It can only be controlled to ensure the patient lives a healthy normal life. The patient must stick to the doctor’s advice by taking prescribed medication every day, at the right time, to control the pressure. This must continue even when they are feeling okay.
Consequences of untreated high blood pressure
When left to run higher than normal, high blood pressure can bring about the following complications with dire consequences;
a) Heart attacks
b) A stroke
c) Kidney failure
Preventive Measures and management of HBP
i) Monitor your blood pressure
People of African descent should monitor their blood pressure on a regular basis. Doctors recommend once every year.
ii) Weight control
Heavy people should try to lose extra pounds by embarking on fitness programs. This helps in lowering blood pressure. Try to remain active at all times. Walk more.
iii) Limit the consumption of alcohol
Patients should limit or completely cut out the consumption of alcohol which tends to raise blood pressure.
iv) Reduce the consumption of salt
The intake of salt by patients should be reduced considerably.
v) Avoid fried foods
Victims are advised to eat fewer fried foods. Steaming, boiling or grilling is recommended.
vi) Reduce the use of butter and oil
Patients’ health improves when they cut their consumption of butter and oil in their cooking.
vii) Eat less food
Victims of hypertension are advised to eat smaller portions of food during meal times and also avoid second helpings.
viii) Eat fruits, vegetables and grains
The consumption of fresh fruits, leafy green vegetables and whole grains is highly recommended.
Foods that fight cancer
The custard apple
Food can also be a real curative blessing to the human body. Scientists in the catholic university of South Korea recently published significant findings in the Journal of Natural Products that suggest that an extract from a commonly used fruit tree may possess the ability to counteroffensive cancerous cells in the human body. The tree is none other than the custard apple tree.
The custard apple tree which grows in most continents, produces a soft, edible, succulent, white fleshy fruit that has dark seeds within the pulp, enclosed within a hard outer cover. The tree grows well in dry parts of America, Africa, the Caribbean and Asia.
In Purdue University which is located in West Lafayette in the Midwestern state of Indiana, USA, scientists successfully conducted tests that proved to be very effective when extracts from the custard apple tree killed lung cancer cells. The custard apple or soursop has ingredients that destroy cancer cells in lungs, prostate, breast, colon, ovary, liver, cervical and the skin.
The plant has been used in South America for centuries in the treatment of many other ailments like high blood pressure, ulcers, malaria, influenza and ring worms among many other diseases. If you live in a conducive region where the custard apple tree can grow favorably, it is advisable to grow your own tree for fresh crops.
Nutritional benefits of the custard apple
The custard apple has the following nutrients that play the roles stated below in the human body;
Foods that destroy cancer cells
Lemon grass is a tropical grass that is native to India and Sri Lanka. It produces an aromatic oil that smells like lemon and is widely used in Asian cooking, perfumes and medicine.
An alternative medicine study conducted in Israel by Doctor Rifka Ofir and Professor Yaakov Weinstein established that lemon grass oil (citral), contains anti-cancer properties that literally cause cancerous cells to self-destruct. The researchers proved that a single gram of lemon oil annihilates cancer cells.
Tomatoes contain a substance called lycopene which makes the fruit appear to be red in color, is known to hinder the progress of cancerous cells. Crashed tomatoes mixed with a little olive oil releases lycopene to fight cancer better.
High blood pressure is a curse that Africa has to learn to manage and live with. Strict adherence to the conditions suggested above can go a long way towards alleviating the impact of high blood pressure upon African nations.
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