Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is one of the most common lifestyle diseases in which the long-term force of the blood against artery walls is high enough to eventually cause heart disease or stroke. You probably have high blood pressure (hypertension) if your blood pressure readings are consistently 140 over 90 mmHg, or higher, over a number of weeks.
- People with hypertension are three times more likely to develop heart disease and stroke and twice as likely to die from these when compared to people with a normal blood pressure.
- One in three Indian adults have high blood pressure and approximately one-third of our population will suffer from it by 2020.
Hypertension Symptoms and Causes
Hypertension is a silent killer because it may have no visible symptoms for years. It can cause internal damage to the heart, lungs, blood vessels, brain, and kidneys. If the blood pressure has reached a severe stage, headaches, vision problems, shortness of breath or nosebleeds can occur.
There is no single cause of hypertension but lifestyle can affect the risk of developing it. The following factors increase your risk:
- Eating too much salt
- Not consuming enough fruit and vegetables
- Not being physically active
- Being overweight
- Consuming too much alcohol
Complications of Hypertension
- Heart attack or stroke: Hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other complications.
- Aneurysms: Abnormal bulge in the wall of an artery due to increased pressure which can be life threatening if ruptures.
- Kidney malfunction: Blood vessels in the kidneys narrow or weaken. This may cause kidney failure.
- Vision loss: Blood vessels in the eyes thicken, get narrowed and might bleed. This may lead to vision changes or blindness.
- Heart failure: Heart muscle thickens to pump blood against the higher pressure in the vessels and can lead to heart failure.
Treatment and Prevention
Lifestyle changes are the best way to prevent and manage hypertension:
- Lose weight
- Quit smoking
- Eat a healthy diet
- Reduce the amount of salt in your diet
- Get regular aerobic exercise (such as brisk walking)
- Limit alcohol (no more than 2 drinks per day for men, and 1 drink per day for women and persons 65 years and older)
DID YOU KNOW?
Approximately one-third of people with high blood pressure do not know that they have it!
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- Mayoclinic. Accessed May 11, 2016.
- The Times of India. Accessed May 12, 2016.
- Blood Pressure UK. Accessed May 11, 2016.