Hypertension is a lifestyle disorder which is affecting more than 30% of the adult population worldwide or more than 10 crore people around the world especially more during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Often neglected as just a headache or high BP, hypertension can lead to serious health crisis if not treated properly at the right time. The burden of hypertension in low and middle-income countries, where two-thirds of cases are found, largely due to increased risk factors in those populations in recent decades. What’s more, around half of people living with hypertension are unaware of their condition, putting them at risk of avoidable medical complications and death. So as we mark the World Hypertension Day on May 17, raising awareness especially in low to middle income areas and promoting the accurate blood pressure measurement methods is the key.
This years theme is - Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer. The focus of this year's theme is to create awareness and communicate in our social networks about accurately measuring blood pressure regularly. So if you or one of your loved ones is suffering from hypertension then do make it a point to get your and your loved ones blood pressure monitored and do a basic check on our health status particularly amid the pandemic.
The prevalence of high blood pressure has definitely increased also in younger age groups due to the unhealthy dietary patterns, sedentary lifestyle and increased stress levels esp. during the frequent lockdowns. It is therefore important to maintain it within the normal range.
What is hypertension?
The term hypertension is often used casually but do we know what it actally refers to? According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), ''hypertension, also known as high or raised blood pressure, is a condition in which the blood vessels have persistently raised pressure. Blood is carried from the heart to all parts of the body in the vessels. Each time the heart beats, it pumps blood into the vessels. Blood pressure is created by the force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels (arteries) as it is pumped by the heart. The higher the pressure, the harder the heart has to pump.''
Many people with high blood pressure often have no symptoms, ''even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels.''
A few people ''may have headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds, but these signs and symptoms aren't specific and usually don't occur until high blood pressure has reached a severe or life-threatening stage.''
Risk Factors and Complications
Common risk factors include age, family history, being overweight or obese, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, using too much salt in your food, drinking too much alcohol and high levels of stress.
High blood pressure is a serious condition and lack of appropriate knowledge among hypertensive patients can prove fatal especially at times like these. If left untreated it becomes one the main risk factor for heart diseases (especially coronary heart disease, heart failure, arrhythmias), stroke, chronic kidney diseases, and dementia.
The latest evidence shows that people with uncontrolled or untreated high blood pressure may be at risk of getting severely ill with COVID-19. Also they may be at a greater risk of complications from COVID-19 leading to higher mortality.
Prevention and Management
Blood pressure should be checked ''at least every two years starting at age 18. If you're age 40 or older, or you're 18 to 39 with a high risk of high blood pressure, ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading every year.''
Lifestyle changes, taking medication, tracking your blood pressure daily is all you need to do. Combination of all that can play an important role in preventing or reducing the health issues high blood pressure can cause.
- Choose heart-healthy foods. Consider the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish and low-fat dairy foods.
- Decrease the salt in your diet. Aim to limit sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day or less. However, a lower sodium intake — 1,500 mg a day or less — is ideal for most adults.
- Lose weight. Losing even a little weight can reduce your blood pressure.
- Get active. Regular exercise lowers blood pressure and helps with stress and weight loss.
- Manage stress. When you're stressed, you may cope in unhealthy ways that can raise your blood pressure. Try managing stress in healthy ways, such as deep breathing and meditation.
- Avoid or limit alcohol. Alcohol can raise blood pressure.
- Quit smoking. Tobacco causes blood pressure to rise and plaque to build up quickly in your arteries.
Homeopathy can serve one of the best ways to eradicate the problem from it's very roots. Talk about it with your family physician and take advice if you need.
Also there are 3 Yoga exercises to perform at home as they help you lower blood pressure levels and beat hypertension:
1. Shavasana or corpse pose
2. Anulom Vilom or alternate nostril breathing
3. Bhujanga aasan or cobra pose