WORLD Hypertension Day is commemorated on 17 May worldwide.

This is the initiative of the World Hypertension League.

The aim of the league is to promote public awareness and encourage people from all walks of life to prevent and control this silent killer.

Hypertension is a condition in which the force of blood against the artery walls is too high.

This causes the heart to work harder than normal and puts the sufferer at risk for heart disease, strokes, kidney disease and even eye disease.

A study conducted in 2017 by Wits scientists showed that Mzansi has the highest prevalence of hypertension in Southern Africa.

It also has the largest number of people whose blood pressure is still not controlled, even while on treatment.

Professor Michele Ramsay of the Sydney Brenner Institute for Molecular Bioscience at Wits and Dr Osman Sankoh from the International Network published the study.

The study reported on the prevalence of hypertension in 10 000 older people at six sites across sub-Saharan Africa.

While there are some hypertension risk factors that cannot be controlled like age, family history and ethnicity, the idea is to focus on the risk factors that can be changed.Dr Miles Braithwaite, medical therapeutic head at Novartis, said regular tests are important to make sure you adopt healthy lifestyle habits.

How to avoid hypertension:, Maintain a healthy weight.

Eating healthy foods can help keep your blood pressure under control.

Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and limit your intake of excess calories, fat and sugar., Reduce salt in your diet., Exercise regularly.

Physical activity helps to prevent hypertension., Monitor your blood pressure.

Make sure you have your blood pressure measured regularly, either by your doctor, a healthcare professional or at home.

High blood pressure often occurs with no symptoms.

Only blood pressure readings will alert you that there is a problem., Cut back on alcohol.

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to high blood pressure too.