May 17 is World Hypertension Day. Plainly put, hypertension is high blood pressure – the “silent killer”.

While it’s quite normal to have increased blood pressure for a short time in response to certain situations, like intense exercise or acute stress, long-term hypertension can lead to serious health complications and result in a medical emergency. It’s known as the “silent killer” because hypertension is usually associated with no or few symptoms and the cause is often unknown. In other words, your heart, kidneys, eyes and circulation, for example, could suffer damage due to high blood pressure while you feel relatively healthy and happy. This is why it’s vital to have a blood pressure test as part of your routine physical examination.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of hypertension you could be mistaking for “nothing serious”:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pains
  • Blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches

Not dealing with hypertension can affect the heart and may lead to:

  • Chest pains, heart attack and also CVA/Stroke
  • Can impair kidney function that can lead to fluid retention and kidney failure
  • Increased pressure in eyes can cause irreversible damage and even lead patients to completely lose their eyesight

These are all scary scenarios nobody wants to face. Fortunately, with early detection, hypertension can be treated and monitored to avoid it’s more serious health consequences. 

Here are some interesting facts you should know on World Hypertension Day:

  • About one in 20 cases is due to an underlying condition or side affect caused medication in certain cases.
  • If left untreated, high blood pressure impair kidney function due to the narrowing of blood vessels, leaving behind harmful toxins in the body.
  • Hypertension is more common in people over the age of 60 and being overweight is one of the key risk factors.
  • Even though diets low in potassium increase changes of developing hypertension, processed and fatty foods loaded with salt are a leading cause.
  • The regular use of alcohol and tobacco increase the risk.
  • Hypertension can definitely be genetically inherited.
  • Not adequately managing high levels of stress is a common cause of hyper tension.

According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation SA:

– Hypertension is one of the most serious risk factors that can lead to death, from heart diseases and strokes, globally responsible for 13% of all deaths.

– In South Africa, more than 1 in three adults live with high blood pressure and it is responsible for one in every two strokes and two in every five heart attacks.

– High blood pressure is already high it can be improved by making lifestyle changes and by taking blood pressure medication.

– Once someone starts taking blood pressure medication it is usually permanent, and medication should be taken as prescribed.

– A blood pressure measurement is recorded as two numbers: systolic and diastolic.

Systolic being the top number (SBP), indicates the pressure when the heart contracts, and therefore the pressure is always higher. The diastolic blood pressure, bottom number (DBP) indicates pressure when the heart is resting between beats. High blood pressure is diagnosed when EITHER OR BOTH of these values are persistently raised on more than one occasion, when measured correctly.

Don’t wait for hypertension to creep up on you. Regular testing is essential to diagnose and manage this condition. All Local Choice pharmacies in South Africa will be offering free blood pressure tests on World Hypertension Day, May 17.  Visit to find a pharmacy near you. Your health is important to us, so please make a point of visiting your nearest Local Choice for a free blood pressure screening and expert advice on other aspects of hypertension.

The local choice hypertension