World Health Day—celebrated every year on April 7—marks the anniversary of the World Health Organization (WHO), founded in 1948. This day is dedicated every year to a different theme representing a worldwide health concern. In 2013 the theme for World Health Day is hypertension, one of the most common diseases around the globe. WHO objectives on this day include raising awareness, recommending prevention strategies and improving detection of hypertension.
A SILENT CONDITION Imagine something were gradually eroding your health, day in day out; attacking one by one different organs in your body—your eyes, to the point of causing blindness; your kidneys leading to acute renal failure; your brain triggering a massive stroke; your heart resulting in congestive heart failure and coronary heart disease. But all this time, over a period of years, you remained blissfully ignorant that a lurking aggressor was slowly undermining your health.
Intimidated? You should be, because this silent killer presents no symptoms in most cases, so you might end up in a life-threatening crisis before you ever had a chance to prevent it. As many as one out of every five adults affected in the U.S. don’t know they have this disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. If you thought it was just another pesky ailment the elderly have to bear, think again.
WHAT THE NUMBERS MEAN Blood pressure is the force of blood moving through the arteries as the heart pumps blood. Blood pressure readings have two numbers: systolic pressure measures the force when the heart contracts; diastolic measures the force in the arteries when the heart is relaxed. One or both these numbers may be too high.