Causes, prevention and more: All you need to know about hypertension

  • Abhinav Verma, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: May 19, 2016 08:20 IST
Hypertension is a silent assassin and here is you can prevent yourself from being its victim. (Istock)

The prime cause of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension is a silent killer. Almost one billion people across the world suffer from hypertension, and yet it’s symptoms are most often overlooked.

It was the World Hypertension Day recently, and we took the opportunity to get in touch with Dr. Mohsin Wali, physician to the president of India and Dr. KK Agarwal, Honorary Secretary General of Indian Medical Association, to help us prepare a brief guide on how to prevent yourself from becoming a victim of hypertension.

What is hypertension? 
As your heart tends to pump blood, blood pressure is the force of the blood against your blood vessels which circulate the blood throughout the body. This force is required for the blood flow to transport nutrients and oxygen throughout the body.

Hypertension is state where and individual experiences high blood pressure for a sustained period, meaning there is excessive pressure on your blood vessels.

“The problem is that when you tell people that they have high blood pressure then don’t take it seriously, they tend to shrug it off as its nothing not knowing that 10% of heart attacks are caused by hypertension” says Dr. Wali.

“When you measure your blood pressure then the reading should not exceed more than 140/90. From 120/80 to 140/90 is the pre-hypertension range. If you’re reading is in this range then you can be prone to hypertension and it’s a warning sign for you to make lifestyle changes” says Dr. Agarwal.

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What causes hypertension?

A sedentary lifestyle is not good for you. (Shutterstock)

“From a sedentary lifestyle, eating habits to chronic stress and air pollution, all of them can cause hypertension. One can also say that obesity is a major reason for hypertension. Lack of sleep and sleep apnea is also a leading cause” states Dr. Wali.

Keep hypertension at bay

“An active and a healthy lifestyle is obviously the key to avoid hypertension. Avoid white sugar and replace it with brown sugar, your salt consumption per day should not exceed more than 6 gm per day. Go for whole wheat flour and brown rice rather plain white rice. Avoid using cell phones at night in order to get a deep sleep” advises Dr. Agarwal.

Symptoms of hypertension

There are various symptoms of this problem, the key ones to keep in mind are

1)Unexplained palpitations while doing any routine physical activity.

2)Unexplained constant headaches

3)Unexplained variation in urine volume

Headaches can indicate hypertension. (Shutterstock)

“Hypertension is called a silent killer because it primarily affects the four major organs in the body, which is your heart, kidney, eyes and brain. Keep in mind, the health of your kidneys is directly proportional to you having hypertension” says Dr Wali.

How and when to measure your BP

“Avoid using digital machines or mercury based blood pressure monitor. Rather opt for aneroid based blood pressure monitor as they are more accurate. After they age of 20, its imperative that you get your blood pressure measured once a year and after the age of 35, get it checked two to three times a year” suggests Dr Agarwal.

Include these in your diet to keep hypertension at bay

Eat plenty of fruits to keep hypertension in control. (Shutterstock)

Fish, spinach, eggs, soya beans, lentils, green tea, walnuts, all fruits (if not diabetic).

* Foods which help to maintain your kidneys should be incorporated in your daily diet.

* A protein and calcium rich diet is essential in combating hypertension.

Avoid these

Red meat, white sugar, caffeine, butter, cheese, salted dry fruits such as cashew nuts.

* Avoid foods which have a hight content of fats and sodium.

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