Hypertension, simply high blood pressure is called a “Silent Killer” since it can exist even without any symptoms for years and then suddenly can cause a fatal stroke or a heart attack. Although it is a common chronic disease, it is one of the most preventable condition. However, hypertension often goes unnoticed. But if it is left untreated, it can cause heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and many other serious health complications. So, it is important to prevent from this silent killer or to recognize it early in order to manage properly.
Hypertension is a long term medical condition characterized by persistently elevated blood pressure. It is defined that a systolic blood pressure (SBP) of 140 mmHg or higher or a diastolic blood pressure (DBP) of 90 mmHg or higher or both.
The diagnosis is made when either the average of two or more DBP measurements is equal or greater than 90 mmHg or the average of two or more SBP readings is consistently equal or greater than 140 mmHg on at least two subsequent visits.
A healthy individual has a SBP of less than 120 mmHg and a DBP of less than 80 mmHg. Pre hypertension indicates an increased risk for progression to hypertension.
Obesity, specially central obesity, Diabetes, low levels of physical activities ,psychosocial stress, excessive salt consumption, high alcohol consumption, smoking and family history of hypertension are major risk factors for developing hypertension. Risk increases with age. For any age given up to 65 years women tend to have a lower blood pressure than men. After 65 years this trend is reversed. Except family history, age and gender all other risk factors are preventable and modifiable.
Majority of patients with hypertension are adults above 40 years of age. Not only the adults, even children and adolescents can get hypertension due to unhealthy dietary habits and low level of physical activities.Gestational hypertension may develop in the last three months of pregnancy. It is associated with higher risk of complications inc luding pre-eclampsia, placental abruption, fetal growth retardation, intrauterine fetal demise, worsening maternal cardiac function. So, it is advised to keep checking on blood pressure monthly after the age of 40.
Prevalence of childhood hypertension is noted to be 5-10% in developing countries and 1-2% in developed countries at present.
Hypertension can never be cured. So, prevention is the best solution. For that, early detection by having blood pressure measured is similarly important.
If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, management is the best way to prevent complications.Hypertension can never be cured. So, prevention is the best solution. For that, early detection by having blood pressure measured is similarly important.
Lose weight if obese or overweight.
Risk of developing hypertension is six times higher in overweight individual than in normal weight individuals. Excess abdominal fat (waist circumference greater than 90 cm in men and 80 cm in women) is associated with increased risk. As little as 4.5 kg of weight loss is associated with reductions of 4 to 5 mmHg systolic blood pressure and 2 to 4 mmHg diastolic blood pressure. Therefore, losing weight is beneficial if you are overweight or obese. Lose weight slowly over time, by getting more physical activity and eating fewer calories. To develop an individualized weight-loss or weight-maintenance program, talk to your doctor or to a registered dietitian.
Increase aerobic physical activity
Moderate-intensity exercise such as brisk walking and cycling are effective in lowering blood pressure. Aim for a total of 40 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity 3 to 4 times a week to help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. It also helps you manage your weight, strengthen your heart and lower your stress level. It is recommended to engage in moderate intensity exercises 30-45 minutes a day five days per week.This can keep your off medication if you have moderately elevated blood pressure and make your medication effectively work if you are on medication.
Several research studies have concluded that cigarette smoking causes various adverse effects in cardiovascular system and acts synergistically with hypertension and dyslipidemia to increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Smoking causes an acute increase in blood pressure and heart rate mainly through the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system. Nicotine in cigarette smoke raises blood pressure and heart rate, narrows arteries and hardens artery walls, and makes your blood more likely to clot. It stresses your heart and sets you up for a heart attack or stroke. Therefore, smoking cessation is one of the most effective lifestyle changes for management of hypertension as well as for the prevention of many cardiovascular diseases.
Reduce sodium intake
One teaspoon of salt is recommended for an individual with hypertension without any comorbidities. If diabetes or Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) is present alone with hypertension or if congestive heart failure is present, half a teaspoon of salt is recommended. Use herbs, spices, and salt-free seasoning blends in cooking. Consuming less Sodium is a key to keep blood pressure at a healthy level.
Reduce intake of dietary saturated fat and cholesterol for overall cardiovascular health.
Saturated fat and cholesterol raise unhealthy fat levels in the body increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Whole milk, butter, cheese, ice cream, beef , pork ,chocolate, coconut milk, coconut oil and egg yolks are some of the foods that are rich in saturated fat. Therefore, reduction of saturated fat is beneficial in lowering hypertention.
Limit alcohol intake.
Drinking too much alcohol raises blood pressure and also can harm the liver, brain, and heart. In addition, alcoholic drinks contain calories which affect in weight gain. If you drink alcoholic beverages, it is recommended to consume no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink a day for women. One drink is defined as one 12-ounce beer, 1.5 ounces of 80-proof spirits, or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits and 4 ounces of wine.
DASH diet is a special diet for hypertension
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It is used for both preventing and controlling hypertension. The DASH eating plan is rich in fruits, vegetables, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, seeds, and nuts. It consists of less Sodium, sweets, added sugars, sugary beverages, fats and red meats .
This heart-healthy way of eating is rich in nutrients that are associated with lowering blood pressure; mainly Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, protein, and fiber and also lower in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. Dietary changes include eating 4-5 fruits, 4-5 vegetables and 2-3 servings of fat free or low fat dairy products daily ; limiting intake of beef, pork, and processed meat products; eating less amount of fats, oils, snacks and sweets. Apart from benefits in preventing and controlling hypertention, DASH eating plan also has other benefits, such as lowering unhealthy cholesterol and reducing the risk of getting heart disease. If your blood pressure is not too high, you may be able to control it entirely by changing diet and lifestyle.
Yes! You can manage your blood pressure
Maintain a healthy weight
Be physically active
Follow a healthy eating plan
Reduce sodium in your diet
Limit alcohol only in moderation
Take prescribed drugs as directed
Now, it is time to start the change in you for a better future!!