Whether you are a student or a working professional, the pressure to excel in a competitive environment, and regularly meet deadlines can often leave you tense and drained out. Among the many side-effects of this kind of stress is the chance of developing hypertension.
According to a survey conducted last year, by the US Department of Health & Human Services, about 33% urban and 25% rural Indians are hypertensive. The problem is not confined to any particular age bracket. But the ailment is not beyond repair. An understanding of what hypertension really is and how it can be avoided can help one cope.
Blame it on…
There are two types of hypertension - primary and secondary. Primary hypertension is caused by certain genetic and environmental factors that cannot be easily identified. Some of them include:
* Advancing age.
* A family history of high blood pressure.
* High-sodium diet (if you have been consuming over 3,000 mg per day).
* Excessive alcohol consumption and smoking.
* Too much work stress.
* Lack of exercise or physical activity.
Secondary hypertension is caused by factors that can be controlled or rectified. Some of them include:
* Diabetes or high cholesterol.
* Oral contraceptives, particularly those that contain higher doses of oestrogen; they often raise the level of blood pressure, and induce hypertension.
* Antidepressants, including tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
* Select recreational drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines.
* Painkillers that are known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen.
* Certain weight-loss medication and herbal supplements.
* Sleep apnea (a sleep disorder that is characterised by infrequent breathing patterns during sleep).
* Kidney problems, or adrenal gland and thyroid issues.
What is hypertension?
Also referred as high blood pressure, hypertension is a condition in which the arteries suffer from elevated blood pressure levels for prolonged periods of time. As reported in the Journal Of The American Academy Of Neurology, hypertension can lead to kidney failure and heart attack, among other bodily dysfunctions. Research also suggests that high blood pressure during middle age (45 years to 65 years) may amplify the risk of cognitive decline later in life.
Do you have it?
While Dr Amol Manerkar, general physician, Kohinoor Hospital, Kurla (W), says that there are no actual symptoms of hypertension, he advises those prone to high BP to stay aware of their overall wellness. Getting a regular medical checkup, he says, is a good idea if you exhibit these signs:
* Fatigue or confusion
* Problems with vision
* Chest pains
* Irregular heartbeat
* Blood in the urine
Treat it right:
The treatment of hypertension involves a multi-pronged approach, which requires making several lifestyle changes:
*Eat right: Eat on time, avoid junk food and other items that are rich in salt and fat. Substitute regular salt with rock salt. Include food with high-fibre content such as beetroot juice, fennel, cabbage, lettuce, radish and carrot in your diet.
*Regular exercise: Aerobic exercises - like brisk walking, jogging, swimming and cycling - for 45 minutes, five days a week, are often recommended to those suffering from hypertension.
*Weight loss: Shedding some extra kilos can help control blood pressure among those who are overweight.
*Get enough sleep: Research shows that people who sleep for more or less than seven to eight hours a day face an increased risk of developing hypertension.
*Quit drinking alcohol: Women who consume two or more alcoholic beverages per day, and men who have three or more drinks per day, have a significantly increased incidence of hypertension as compared to non-drinkers.
*Relaxation therapies and yoga: Research shows that meditation and yoga are effective in reducing blood pressure.
- With inputs from Dr Anil Ballani, consulting general physician, Hinduja Healthcare Surgical, Khar (W), and Sagar Pednekar, fitness expert, Gold's Gym India.