Case Of The Week: Hypertension


            Hypertensive cases are on the rise in Sierra Leone according to many medical professionals, and contributes to mortality cases in an area that has already been plagued by so much grief. Hypertension is also known as high blood pressure and is a killer condition especially in an environment where there are no campaigns geared towards its awareness or methods of early diagnosis.

CHO Lappel, a Community Health Officer in Magbenteh Community Hospital in Makeni, Bombali District Sierra Leone pointed out the reasons he thought the cases were on the rise which included stressful lifestyles. Sister Jariatu who is in charge of the male ward at the hospital concurs and mentions that socioeconomic structures may be a cause of this stress in the community, where poverty is a high and causes families to undergo stressful lifestyles. According to Jariatu the hypertensive attacks come in three stages.

The first attack consists of symptoms such as headaches and fatigue. The second stage has worse symptoms and may include brain damage, paralysis and ischemia. The third stages are usually more severe secondary symptoms and in terminal cases.

High cases recorded on this condition are mostly in male patients, due to their work and lifestyle, including; heavy lifting, irregular sleeping patterns, excessive cigarette smoking/drinking, fatigue and depression. The only way to treat hypertension in this community according to medical professionals is continued prescription drug use, which leaves a gap for counseling and early diagnosis.

In most cases the community looks down on hypertensive cases and may in most cases chuck it up to superstition like witchcraft. This in some cases leads to patients being taken to the traditional medicine men in the bushes who end up doing more harm than good. The infection rate in such situations is high as herbs and unsanitary practices are used to try and make the patient better in accordance with their cultural beliefs, which proves to be a challenge especially when patients come to the hospital after undergoing proper medical treatment and later reverting to these traditional bush practices.

Unfortunately medical staff have a hard time reversing damages already done to patient’s health. In most cases patients have strokes and other cardio vascular and inter-cranial conditions. Prevention of hypertension is simply done by observing lifestyle and nutrition.