Friday, September 11, 2015

All you need to know about hypertension

Hypertension is one of the most common lifestyle diseases today, with every third person we meet, having suffered from it. And experts say that even kids can be victims of high blood pressure. Read on to find out more...

Hypertension is one of the most common lifestyle diseases today, with every third person we meet, having suffered from it. And experts say that even kids can be victims of high blood pressure. The fact is that in 90% patients there is no known cause for hypertension and this makes it even more important to be alert. Most are not even aware that they have hypertension,which makes the scenario rather grim.

Cause for worry?
Hypertension is likely to end up being an epidemic in the near future, and approximately one-third of our population will suffer from it by 2020, states senior surgeon Dr Ramakanta Panda. He adds, "It has been increasing consistently since 1980. Currently, estimates put the incidence of hypertension to 20 to 40% in urban areas and 12 to 17% in rural areas of India."

Grim statistics
"One in three Indian adults has high blood pressure. Anyone, including children, can develop it," says interventional cardiologist Dr Nilesh Gautam. According to the World Health Statistics 2012 report, India has low rates of hypertension compared to world figures. Here, 23.10% men and 22.60% women above 25 years suffer from hypertension. India also fares better than the global average of 29.20 in men and 24.80 in women respectively.

Dr Panda explains, "However, in absolute numbers, this is a huge population. A bigger problem is that people are normally not aware that they have hypertension. This could potentially be a gray area affecting the numerical estimation."

What is hypertension
Hypertension is defined as a repeatedly elevated blood pressure, exceeding 140 over 90 mmHg — a systolic pressure above 140 with a diastolic pressure above 90, says Dr Panda.

Dr Gautam explains, "Blood pressure is the force of blood against your artery walls as it circulates through your body. Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, but can cause health problems if it stays high for a long time. High BP can lead to heart disease and stroke — leading causes of death in India."

Killer disease
"High blood pressure or hypertension kills nearly 1.5 million people every year
in South-East Asia," says Dr Panda.

Factors that are responsible
Late eating, excessive time spent on smartphones by youngsters who seem to be living in a virtual world instead of physically walking around and getting to know people personally, sedentary lifestyles etc contribute majorly to the rise in hypertension, says Dr Panda.

Adds Dr Gautam, "Several factors beyond your control increase the risk for high BP. These include your age, sex, race or ethnicity."

Causes for hypertension
In a majority of the patients (almost 90 per cent) there is no known cause for the high blood pressure, states Dr Vijay D'silva, critical care specialist of a heart institute. He says, "The basic reason for high blood pressure is atherosclerosis. There are multiple factors responsible which lead to atherosclerosis resulting in hypertension which include stress, sedentary lifestyle, faulty food habits, lack of exercise etc. A small group of patients with high blood pressure have what is called secondary hypertension, in which the high blood pressure is the result of another condition or illness, such as kidney diseases, disorders of the thyroid, pituitary or adrenal glands, pregnancy, obesity and sleep disorders and adverse effects of medicines."

Preventing hypertension
"People should follow an active lifestyle which will help in weight loss. Even small amounts of weight loss can make a big difference in helping to prevent high blood pressure," says Dr D'silva.

He adds that regular physical exercise is crucial, as people who are physically active have a lower risk of suffering from blood pressure than those who lead a sedentary lifestyle.

Dr Gautam says, "You can work to reduce your risk for hypertension by following a healthy diet, maintaining healthy weight, not smoking, and being physically active."

In today's scenario, where everyone is working towards achieving a target to climb up the corporate ladder, strict lifestyle modifications can go a long way in reducing the menacing effects of hypertension.

Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to...

Heart attack or stroke
High blood pressure can cause hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other complications.

Increased blood pressure can cause your blood vessels to weaken and bulge, forming an aneurysm. If an aneurysm ruptures, it can be life-threatening.

Heart failure
To pump blood against the higher pressure in your vessels, your heart muscle thickens. Eventually, the thickened muscle may have a hard time pumping enough blood to meet your body's needs, which can lead to heart failure.

Organ malfunction
Weakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys. This can prevent these organs from functioning normally.

Vision loss
Thickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes. This can result in vision loss.

Metabolic syndrome
This syndrome is a cluster of disorders of your body's metabolism, including increased waist circumference, high triglycerides, low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or 'good,' cholesterol, high blood pressure and high insulin levels. If you have high blood pressure, you're more likely to have other components of metabolic syndrome. The more components you have, the greater your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease or stroke.

Memory problems
Trouble with memory or understanding. Uncontrolled high blood pressure may affect your ability to think, remember and learn. Trouble with memory or understanding concepts is more common in people with high blood pressure.

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