High Blood Pressure and Hypertensive Heart disease
OnePlan health insurance explores high blood pressure and hypertension two of the country’s most prevalent life-threatening health issues, and what can be done to prevent these silent killers.
Any health insurance company in South Africa will tell you that hypertensive heart disease is one of our biggest health risks today. Hypertensive heart disease is also associated with many other disorders and diseases of the heart, which makes it far riskier than most people realise, and this is why OnePlan health insurance is intent on educating the South African public about the risks of neglecting their heart health. After all, health insurance can only help you so much if you develop a lifestyle related heart problem. Prevention is better than cure, so inform yourself and keep your heart happy! Hypertensive heart disease is the most common cause of death related to high blood pressure. It encompasses a range of heart problems including heart failure and thickening of the heart muscle (ventricular hypertrophy). Because of their prevalence, conditions related to hypertension are an area of particular interest for doctors as well as many a health insurance company.
What is Heart Failure?
This term does not necessarily mean that the heart has stopped completely, but refers to the point where a heart’s pumping power is so weak that it cannot support the needs of the body adequately, or that the heart muscle has become less elastic for some reason, also causing pumping problems to occur. In order to compensate for this reduction in power, the muscle walls of the heart stretch in an effort to hold more blood. Over time, this results in thinning and weakening of the heart walls.
Symptoms of heart failure include:
- Shortness of breath
- Fluid retention (swelling) in the lower body, legs and abdomen
- Difficulty lying flat when in bed
- Increased need for night-time urination
How do Doctors Diagnose Hypertension?
There are certain tell-tale signs that will indicate hypertensive heart disease during your check-up. These include:
High blood pressure
Irregular pulse and unusually large heart
Fluid in lungs and swollen legs or feet
Your doctor may also elect to perform more specific tests, such as an electrocardiogram or cardiac stress test.
How do Doctors Treat Hypertensive Heart Disease?
Since hypertension is caused by high blood pressure, the treatment for the disorder will centre on treatment of the causal condition. High blood pressure is treated with a variety of medications, including diuretics (to relieve fluid retention), beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors and vasodilators (to assist in opening up constricted blood vessels). It is also imperative, however, that the patient takes the treatment into their own hands to an extent as well – lifestyle choices can cause high blood pressure, and they can also help relieve it. Your doctor may suggest:
If you have high blood pressure, it is immediately recommended that you severely restrict your intake of sodium (salt). It is also helpful to lose weight if a weight problem is present, by restricting calorie intake. Foods high in fibre and potassium are also highly recommended.
Tobacco and Alcohol
Two major contributors to high blood pressure, it is extremely wise to stop smoking and limit alcohol intake to maintain heart health and avoid further damage.