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World Hypertension Day: Causes, symptoms, cure for this lifestyle disease

World Hypertension Day is celebrated on May 17 every year. Since 2013, the theme of the WHD is: Know your numbers. Here’s everything you need to know about this lifestyle disease, from its causes to symptoms to cure.

health Updated: May 17, 2018 08:44 IST
Kabir Bhandari
World Hypertension Day: A recent study by the Union health ministry suggests that one out of every eight person in India suffers from high blood pressure.
World Hypertension Day: A recent study by the Union health ministry suggests that one out of every eight person in India suffers from high blood pressure. (Shutterstock)

World Hypertension Day (WHD), celebrated every May 17 since 2005, aims to create awareness on hypertension and encourage people to take preventive measures against the lifestyle disease.

One out of every eight people in India suffer from high blood pressure, a recent study by a Union health ministry preventive health programme that screened 22.5 million adults across 100 districts in India in 2017 has found.

From 2013 to 2018, the theme of the WHD has been ‘Know Your Numbers’ – which means knowing what your blood pressure is, thereby spreading awareness on abnormally high blood pressure and arterial blood pressure.

Symptoms

Hypertensive crisis happens when there is a sudden increase in blood pressure, potentially causing organ damage. For example, one risks heart failure, kidney failure or stroke when the blood pressure gets very high. Symptoms of hypertensive crisis can be breathlessness, chest pain, changes in consciousness, repeated vomiting, severe headache and convulsions. In such situations, emergency medical attention – including early control of blood pressure – is mandatory to avoid fatalities.

Primary hypertension is mostly caused due to lifestyle factors. (Shutterstock)

Causes

A person can fall prey either to primary or secondary hypertension. While primary hypertension is without an obvious cause (mostly lifestyle-related), secondary hypertension happens due to an underlying factor like kidney disease or hormone disease.

“The most common cause of hypertension is excess salt intake in the diet. Many genetic factors also make a person prone to high blood pressure. Sedentary lifestyle, smoking and alcohol use are other common causes. Hypertension in very young people could be due to disease of the arteries or hormone disorders. Chronic use of analgesics can also gradually increase blood pressure,” says Dr Vivek K Nambiar, head of division of stroke, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi.

Prevention

While hypertension can pose a significant risk of heart disease and stroke, it can be controlled. High stress levels, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and poor dietary habits are some of the main reasons for hypertension in young people.

How can it be prevented, then? “Taking at least 10,000 steps a day, ensuring weight-loss and maintaining a healthy diet go a long way in preventing hypertension. Along with this, practice at least five minutes of mindfulness after waking up each morning to reduce blood pressure and stress,” says Dr Charit Bhograj, consultant cardiologist, Vikram Hospital, Bengaluru. “In cases you are a young hypertensive, go for a thorough medical check-up to ensure that there are no secondary or more sinister causes of hypertension.”

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