Why high blood pressure is a silent killer and how you can tackle it
Over A billion people worldwide suffer from hypertension. It’s predicted to increase by 60 per cent to 1.56 billion in 2025. It’s also a leading risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, foetal and maternal death in pregnancy, dementia and renal failure. Two-thirds of those with hypertension live in economically developing countries like India, where it’s responsible for 57 per cent of all stroke deaths and 24 per cent of coronary heart disease deaths.
WHAT IS HYPERTENSION?
Dr Tapan Ghose, director and head, cardiology, Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj, says, “The theme for World Hypertension Day 2018 is ‘Know Your Numbers.’ Hypertension is a condition in which the blood vessels have persistently raised pressure, putting them under increased stress. The higher the pressure, the harder the heart has to pump, which is why it leads to cardio problems.”
According to American college of Cardiology (2017), the various categories of blood pressure are: Normal (less than 120/80 mm Hg); elevated (systolic between 120-129 mm Hg and diastolic less than 80 mm Hg); stage 1 (systolic between 130-139 mm Hg and diastolic 80-89 mm Hg); stage 2 (systolic at least 140 mm Hg or diastolic at least 90 mm Hg); hypertensive crisis (systolic over 180 mm Hg and/or diastolic over 120 mm Hg).
Dr Viveka Kumar, senior director, Cath Lab, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, who treated his youngest patient, a 10-year-old, not too long ago, says, “The increasingly hectic lifestyles, increasing sedentary habits, increasing stress level, prevalence of diabetes and kidney diseases, drug abuse, smoking and alcohol consumption, has not only led to increase in numbers, but also decreased the age group of the patients.” Dr Gunjan Kapoor, director, interventional cardiologist, Jaypee Hospital, adds, “Today, youngsters enjoy the offering of the virtual world, where they make friends over online games, music, movies, reading, instead of getting to know people personally. So, the level of competition leads to stress which contributes to hypertension.”
Headache, nosebleeds, irregular heartbeats, buzzing in the ears, tiredness, dizziness, weakness, nausea, confusion, anxiety, chest pain and breathlessness are some of the common symptoms of hypertension.
Recognised as one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular disease, hypertension is also called as the ‘Silent Killer’ as it often does not exhibit any symptoms during its early stages.
Mostly, patients’ finds out about the criticality of the situation after suffering a heart attack or stroke, or are diagnosed with heart or kidney disease.
Dr Gunjan adds, “Though it’s rare, patients may experience dizziness, fatigue, reduced activity tolerance and palpitations. If blood pressure reaches the level of a hypertensive crisis, a person may experience headaches and nosebleeds.”
Hypertension can only be managed with medication and lifestyle changes.
Dr Ramananda Srikantiah Nadig, head of the clinical Advisory board, healthi, says, “Most patients need two or more anti-hypertensive drugs to reduce blood pressure. With a triple drug therapy, one of which is a diuretic, it’s possible to control blood pressure in over 99 per cent of cases.”
Avoid having excess salt as it puts strain on arteries which carry blood, which makes the tiny muscles in the artery walls stronger and thicker.
1. Use the stairs instead of the elevator.
2. Carry home-cooked food instead of ordering in.
3. Get up frequently from your work station and walk around every hour.
4. Find ways to manage workplace stress by taking a walk, deep breathing or talking to a colleague.
1. Manage stress through regular exercise, yoga and meditation.
2. Smoking and alcohol consumption is linked to raise blood pressure and an increase the risk of stroke. Studies show smoking cessation leads to reduction of systolic BP by 3.5 mm Hg and diastolic blood by 1.9 mm Hg.
3. Get at least 40 minutes of exercise – jogging, brisk walk, swimming or cycling. When done at least five days a week, it leads to a 5-9mm Hg reduction of systolic BP.