Hypertension – high blood pressure essential facts and information

Check your blood pressure regularly
Check your blood pressure regularly

High blood pressure is very common. About 46% of Nigerians above 25 years of age have hypertension, and most of them do not know.
Blood pressure is the force of blood against your artery walls as it circulates through your body. It is determined by both the amount of blood your heart pumps and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. The more blood your heart pumps and the narrower your arteries, the higher your blood pressure.

What is Hypertension?
Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) is defined as systolic blood pressure greater or equal to 140mmHg and diastolic blood pressure greater or equal to 90 mmHg (mmHG=millimetres of mercury).
You are diagnosed hypertensive when one or both readings are high; Systolic blood pressure is the pressure in the arteries as the heart pumps out blood while diastolic blood pressure is the pressure in the arteries as the heart relaxes and refills with blood. Continue reading “Hypertension – high blood pressure essential facts and information”

The negative effect of cigarette smoking on your health

Dangers of smoking
Dangers of smoking

There’s no way around it. Smoking is bad for your health. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body.
Your smoke is also bad for other people, they breathe in your smoke second-hand and can get many of the same problems as smokers.
Cigarette contains more than 7000 chemicals, of which at least 250 are known to be harmful. Of the harmful substances, at least 69 are known to cause cancer.
Consequently, the harmful effects cannot be over-emphasized. Below are some ways smoking affect health;

How does smoking result in death?
Cigarette smoking increases risk for death from all causes in men and women.
Smoking causes about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths in men and women.

How does smoking affect my heart and blood vessels?
The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your blood vessels and affect the function of the heart. This damage increases the risk for;
1. Atherosclerosis: a disease in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up in your arteries
2. Aneurysms: which are bulging blood vessels that can burst and cause death
3. Coronary artery disease (CHD), narrow or blocked arteries around the heart
4. Heart attack and damage to your arteries
5. Heart-related chest pain
6. High blood pressure
7. Coronary Heart disease: A condition in which platelets (components of the blood that prevents excessive bleeding) stick together along with proteins to form clots which can then get stuck in the plaque in the walls of arteries of the heart and cause heart attack
8. Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a condition in which plaque builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the head and limbs.
9.Stroke: which is sudden death of brain cells caused by blood clots or bleeding. Smoking increases the risk for stroke.

How does smoking affect my lungs and breathing?
Every cigarette you smoke damages your breathing and scars your lungs. Smoking causes;
1. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): a disease that gets worse over time and causes wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and other symptoms. About 80% of deaths from COPD are caused by smoking.
2. Emphysema: a condition in which the walls between the air sacs in your lungs lose their ability to stretch and shrink back. Your lung tissue is destroyed, making it difficult or impossible to breathe.
3. Chronic bronchitis: which causes swelling of the lining of your bronchial tubes. When this happens, less air flows to and from your lungs.
4. Pneumonia
5. Asthma. Also, people with asthma can suffer severe attacks when around cigarette smoke.

How does smoking affect my vision?

Smoking is as bad for your eyes as it is for the rest of your body. It results in the following;
1. Age-related macular degeneration (damage to a small part close to the retina involved in vision)
2. Cataract: which is clouding of the eyes’ lens making it difficult for you to see,
3. Optic nerve damage
All of the above can lead to blindness.

How does smoking affect my bones?
Smoking reduces the density of the bones.
Smoking increases your risk for osteoporosis, a condition in which bones weaken and become more likely to fracture.

How does smoking affect my teeth?
Smoking can cause tooth loss. It can also cause gum problems.

How does smoking cause infertility and birth problems?
Smoking can make it harder for a woman to become pregnant and can affect her baby’s health before and after birth. Smoking increases risks for;
Ectopic pregnancy (pregnancy outside the womb)
Preterm (early) delivery
Stillbirth (death of the baby before birth)
Low birth weight
Sudden infant death syndrome (known as SIDS or crib death)
Smoking can also affect men’s sperm, which can reduce fertility and also increase risks for birth defects and miscarriage.

How does smoking cause cancer?
Smoking can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body;
Blood (acute myeloid leukaemia)
Colon and rectum (colorectal)
Kidney and ureter
Oropharynx (includes parts of the throat, tongue, soft palate, and the tonsils)
Trachea, bronchus, and lung
Smoking also increases the risk of dying from cancer and other diseases in cancer patients and survivors.
If nobody smoked, one of every three cancer deaths would not happen.

Smoking and auto immune diseases
The immune system is the body’s way of protecting itself from infection and disease. Smoking compromises the immune system, making smokers more susceptible to infections.
Smoking doubles your risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis. Smoking has recently been linked to type 2 diabetes.

Why you should quit smoking?
Your risk of developing the diseases listed will be reduced or will be the same as with non-smokers.

Notes from the field – A west Nigerian doctor practising medicine in northern Nigeria

Notes from the field of medical practice in northern Nigeria
Notes from the field of medical practice in northern Nigeria

The practice of medicine is guided by ethics and principles. However, culture, religion and beliefs often influence the practice of medicine in most regions of the country, including northern Nigeria.

It is pertinent to note that medical practice in the north is an interesting one based on its peculiarities that stem from many factors among which are the aforementioned.

It is worthy of mention that majority of northerners are muslims, with unique culture, belief and tradition.The north is also a highly populated region of the country.

The maternity wing of any hospital can attest to the population strength of any northern state. There is a good number of quite young primigravidae and of course, many great grand, multiparous women.
It’s far from anything surprising to come across women with their 10th, 13th or even 18th pregnancy and looking like they never had one. I must admit that northern women are exceptionally strong in terms of pregnancy and childbirth. The implications of this as a healthcare provider, in the obstetrics and gynecology department is that you must be ready for a huge, yet interesting task. It’s an avenue to see and gather experience from various obstetrics cases, ranging from normal labour, missed abortions to ruptured uterus.

The outpatient department is indeed another people-laden section of any hospital, as the population could be so large that a doctor may have over 50 to 70 patients to attend to within a shift.

One of the major reasons why the hospitals enjoy large patronage is because of the subsidization of healthcare by the governments in nothern Nigeria. In Kano, (northwest Nigeria), for example, caesarian sections in general hospitals are done free of charge.

The healthcare provider encounters various cases ranging from the ‘common’ malaria to some cases only seen in medical text books while undergoing training in the medical school. It’s often said that you really cannot boast of having experience in the medical field if you have never practiced in the north.

A very important peculiarity worthy of mention is the religious and cultural belief associated with consulting female patients. It is a common practice that only female medical personnel are permitted to attend to female patients. It is prohibited for a man, even a medical doctor to have any close association with a female, except in cases of emergencies where female healthcare workers are not available. This is sometimes a common cause of frictions and restrictions when attending to female patients in need of medical attention. This also accounts for the high demand for female obstetricians and gynaecologists in northern Nigeria.

The most frequently encountered challenge of medical practitioners in the north is late presentation of patients to the health facilities. This increases the number of complicated and sometimes irredeemable cases that the health professional has to attend to. There is usually an initial reluctance to attend the hospital, despite the fact that treatment is often free. Many locals would rather try out all sorts of herbs and patronise tradomedical healers before coming to a health centre.

Some of these practices include, traditional bone setting in cases of fractures, making incisions on the chest wall to let out blood in a case of chest pain, making incisions and cutting open swellings on parts of the body.

Another common practice is that which predisposes women to heart failure after childbirth. It is the habit of hot water bath and potash- in pap meal. It is indeed a common cause of peripartal cardiomyopathy amongst northern women and often complicated with heart failure.

All of these practices increase the incidence of diseases. It also makes managing other illnesses extremely difficult, considering the fact that there are a lot of such incidents and resources allocated to resolving health issues are limited.

All these said, it’s quite an interesting experience practicing in the north. It simply demands understanding the peculiarities and challenges, and finding a way aroud them.

Allah ya taimaka kuma ya bada zaman lapia.

Dr. Abdulazeez Abiola Ismail
Kano State, Nigeria