Yes, You! Have You Checked Your BP?

By Ikenga Chronicles June 12, 2018

Yes, You! Have You Checked Your BP?

–Uche Anyanwagu

The question struck us like the proverbial bolt from the blues. In a way, it brought us back to reality.

This was my feeling and that of many other medical students as we encircled our consultant in her clinic.

As a meticulous doctor, she took time to take the blood pressure readings of the elderly lady, and later assessed her current medication.

She seemed a bit displeased that the lady was not regular in keeping her routine medical appointment. Sadly, she was non-compliant as well with her medication too.

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She took time to count her remaining tablets and subtracted their sum from the number of days when she saw her last and got a fair idea of how long the lady had defaulted in taking her meds.

Expectedly, she was unhappy with her current BP reading and a florid of symptoms she came with.

As we all shook our heads in pity, she took a swipe at us all through her thick lenses and threw us all aback by this very simple and easy to answer question: “You!” (pointing at no one in particular) “Yes, you! Have you checked your BP?

We all stared at one another, wondering who the question was actually meant for. She kept repeating: “You! Yes you! Have you checked your BP?”

We were all in our late teens and early twenties but she had a valid point

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“You! Yes you! Have you checked your BP?

“Hypertension is no longer a disease for the elderly alone. It now occurs in almost 5% of children and this is even worse in blacks.

Childhood obesity seems to be its major driver. i na-agakwa Mr Biggs (as you go to eat junk food), be absolutely sure you may be knocking on its door.”

She continued while we quickly brought out our notepads and pen to jot down the stuff she was “vibrating”.

“Come on, throw away those jotters and listen very well to me. This is for you children and not for exams!” she roared.

We were startled but she seemed undeterred.

“You,” she said again, pointing at no one in particular, “as you keep expanding laterally, o kwa high BP ka i na-akpo oku (it is high BP that you are calling). Obese children adolescents are three times more likely to develop hypertension.

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“Bia nwa, imakwa na (do you know that) Hypertension can be diagnosed in young people?

“As you all know, hypertension can be primary/essential (with no cause) or secondary (with an underlying cause).” We all nodded.

“You must know some risk factors that may make you likely to get hypertension even as a youth.

“If your parents (or any member of your family) have hypertension, Nna, have you checked your BP?

“If you are black, Nne, you have a greater chance oh, compared to whites. Biko nu, have you checked your BP?”

At this stage, we all joined her to echo: “Have you checked your BP?”

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“As your age increases and your body weight and body mass index (BMI) climb uphill, they all tick towards this scale, I ask, have you checked your BP?

“As we daily consume so much salt and salty food, we are twice likely to have raised BP compared to those with low salt intake. Can you slow down now and check your BP?”

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“Because that severe headache you have, or that visual (eye) problem you complained of yesterday may be high BP.That irregular heart beat that almost floored you yesterday or is it that heart racing that pounds your heart like pestle on a mortar (palpitations) may be high BP oh.”

You! Yes you! Have you checked your BP?

“Have you given a thought to that chest pain that radiates to your shoulder, or that fatigue you attributed to stress and even that blood in your urine? These may all be signs that your BP is climbing Mount Sinai.

“Oh you have no symptoms at all, and you think you are free. Mbok, hypertension is a silent killer. It is largely symptomless. Inu! So, You! Yes you! I ask again: have you checked your BP?”

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You! Yes you! Have you checked your BP?

“Do you know that BP can be easily measured? People can easily walk into any chemist to have it checked. You have no excuse.

“To confirm a diagnosis of hypertension, I taught you in class that we need to document elevated BPs on 3 separate occasions at least one week apart. Please do not forget white coat hypertension too. It is real.”

“Hypertension is a silent killer. It crawls in unnoticed and gradually takes its toll. It fears no age.Even children with hypertension have been shown to have reduced/impaired cognition compared to their peers without.”

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People with hypertension have a high chance of dying from heart diseases.

What about the kidneys? Hypertension and Kidney impairment are intertwined like the rings of the Olympic logo. Both can lead to the other.Kidney problems can lead to heart disorders and death. The risk of hypertension extends even to stroke, heart attack, and others.”

“There is a way out as we know. While we know we cannot control our race, family or age, we can manage our diet, control our weight, reduce our salt intake.If it is high, abeg go see your doctor NOW.”

The voice of that lovely doctor echoes now even louder.

My name is Uche Anyanwagu. I just checked my BP. Have you?
This is the 27th in a series of short stories on “Medical Myths – Tales by Doctors”
Watch out next Monday for another.