On World Hypertension Day, do yourself a favour and keep this in mind: Hypertension is a condition which becomes threatening/ fatal when a person is ageing and is approaching his/her late 40s.
The lifestyle changes in urban cities, observed over past few years -- like sedentary work profiles, unhealthy eating habits, increased consumption of alcohol and cigarettes and growing stress levels -- have contributed to hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, among younger generation.
Dr JD Mukherji, senior director, Neurology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, says: “What is more disturbing is that most people are not aware of their hypertensive condition and its adverse impact on their health, in the long term.” It is therefore important to spread awareness about this condition and its impact among common public at large.
Hypertension is a state when the blood pressure increases beyond stipulated range to unhealthy levels, which like diabetes or any similar lifestyle disorder, impacts various organs within the human body. When high blood pressure is not monitored or treated, it can lead to a stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, memory problems and more.
It is a lesser known fact that stroke is one of the leading causes of death and may lead to severe long-term disability as well. Usually, people who have suffered from stroke also have had a history of high blood pressure. Therefore, it is crucial for hypertension patients to monitor their BP on a regular basis.
Hypertension is often considered a silent ailment: it can cause damage to one’s body for years before the consequences become evident. It tends to run in families, and according to recent studies, it is more likely to affect men than women. Yet, what is important to note is that hypertension is a manageable condition and can be kept in check with simple lifestyle modifications and minor medical intervention.
Dr JD Mukherji lists the problems hypertension can lead to if it is not treated.
• Heart problems: Hypertension makes your heart work too hard. The increased pressure on the blood vessels force your heart muscles to pump more frequently with higher force in comparison to a healthy heart. This can lead to heart attacks and chest pains.
• Kidney problems: When blood vessels get damaged, the nephrons that filter blood do not receive the required oxygen and nutrients. That’s the reason why high blood pressure is the second leading cause of kidney failure. Additionally, it can also lead to chronic kidney diseases and acute renal failure.
• Eyes problems: High blood pressure can damage the vessels supplying blood to one’s retina, causing retinopathy. This condition can lead to bleeding in the eye, blurred vision and complete loss of vision. Also, if you have both diabetes and high blood pressure, you’re at an even greater risk to suffer retinopathy. It can also lead to Hypertensive retinopathy and acute blindness.
• Ear problems: People suffering from high blood pressure could also suffer from hearing loss as a result of their medical condition.
Hypertension as a condition is heavily influenced by diet such as excessive intake of alcohol, smoking, junk food, etc. It is important for people to understand that their lifestyle would require certain modification/alteration to keep their blood pressure under control.
In certain cases, basic improvement in diet and lifestyle, including reducing salt and alcohol intake, plus losing weight, increasing physical activity, incorporating DASH diet (includes consumption of fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy products), reducing/quitting smoking, etc, may be enough to control blood pressure.
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