Beware of the ‘Silent killer’ that is ravaging lives in South Africa

by Siphenathi Ntoba

Do you know about your blood pressure levels? Many were murdered obliviously by this ‘silent killer’ disease. Hypertension (HTN) is a multifactorial (involves genetic and nongenetic factors) condition, characterized by persistent elevated blood pressure (BP) against blood vessels. It is a risk factor for heart disease. HTN grade1 (Systolic BP: 130–139 mmHg and Diastolic BP:80–89 mmHg), and HTN grade2 ≥ 140/90 mmHg (SBP/DBP).

Globally, 1.39 billion adult people are hypertensive and 10.4 million deaths worldwide. HTN has remarkable increased prevalence in Sub-Saharan Africa resulting to a rise of premature deaths. In South Africa, HTN has drastically enhanced as a great burden with 27-58% of prevalence.

The writer seeks to provide knowledge and awareness of the risk factors of ‘silent killer’ (no obvious symptoms)- hypertension. HTN is influenced by genetics, sociodemographic, and lifestyle behaviors. Physical inactivity and unbalanced food have great influence on HTN development and progress. Body mass index (BMI) is known to be the number one prompting factor of HTN which is associated with type 2 diabetes mellitus development (T2DM– 2xmore risking factor for HTN). It was reported that most rural people of Mthatha were unaware of their T2DM due to their unavailability for diagnosis hence they were victims thereof.

Most studies revealed that blood pressure (BP) is poorly controlled due to unknown HTN status, hence untreated regardless available resources for such responsibility. South Africa found it challenging to manage overburdening of HTN and its complication while experiencing poverty, increase in unemployment, socio-economic inequality, and its apartheid history. Cultural observance and masculine stigma have caused men to be victims of HTN.

Therefore, HTN prevalence has drastically increased due to the mention risk especially BMI and unbalanced diet. The best way to prevent and treat HTN requires an individual diagnosis and adherence to medication when applicable and being physical active.


Sharma, J. R., Mabhida, S. E., Myers, B., Apalata, T., Nicol, E., Benjeddou, M., Muller, C., & Johnson, R. (2021). Prevalence of Hypertension and Its Associated Risk Factors in a Rural Black Population of Mthatha Town, South Africa. International journal of environmental research and public health, 18(3), 1215.

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