26 July 2012
Stress, erratic meals, over–consumption of 'outside food,' and unhealthy social commitments can all contribute to high blood pressure.
While, globally, the number of high blood pressure (HBP) cases has fallen, in India this number is on a steady incline. A recent study revealed that, till the end of 2008, 139 million Indians suffered from HBP. Did you know this staggering number is also susceptible to stroke, heart and kidney failure? To help you understand this condition better, we collate some interesting facts about high blood pressure and its prevention.
What is high blood pressure?
Are you tired, dizzy and often faint? Those are a few signs that are linked to HBP. But it is not the case with everyone; HBP is not easily diagnosed only through a check up.
Scientifically HBP is defined as follows: "Hypertension (HTN) or high blood pressure, sometimes called arterial hypertension, is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated. This requires the heart to work harder than normal to circulate blood through the blood vessels."
What is the normal blood pressure range?
There are two parts in monitoring and measuring your blood pressure:
Systolic: The blood pressure while your heart is beating.
Diastolic: The blood pressure when your heart is at rest.
On the blood pressure monitor, systolic is written on top and diastolic below it. But what is the average normal blood pressure? Systolic should be below 120 and diastolic should be below 80.
High blood pressure and serious health problems:
Hypertension is only a precursor to other major and deadly health problems. A slight increase in blood pressure may potentially shorten your life. Most of us may not be aware but HBP shouldn't be taken lightly. It can catapult into larger health issues like kidney failure, stroke, heart failure and heart attacks. We take a closer look at these health problems and how high blood pressure is linked to them.
High blood pressure and kidney problems
The function of the kidney is to filter and separate the good and the bad. Your kidney also has arteries. When blood is pumped uncontrollably through these arteries for a long period of time, these arteries weaken and harden. Hence, they cannot provide sufficient blood to the kidney, damaging the kidney.
An interesting fact: Kidney produces a hormone that regulates blood pressure, this process fails when the kidney is damaged.
High blood pressure and stroke
You suffer a stroke when your arteries are clogged (ischemic strokes) or they burst (hemorrhagic strokes). Clogged arteries will reduce oxygen supply in the body causing a stroke which in turn causes paralysis, speech impairment and affects vision and memory. If you have HBP it will weaken your arteries; you may suffer a brain stroke if the arteries are weak in the brain.
Interesting fact: Ischemic strokes account for 87 percent of all stroke cases.
High blood pressure and heart failure
When blood is pumped in more than regulated amounts, your arteries face the brunt of this lifestyle disease. That's not all; your heart also works harder, which causes the blood to thicken and reduces the flow of blood in the body.
Some of the symptoms of high blood pressure and heart failure: A sense of tiredness, fatigue, breathlessness, swollen ankles, feet and legs. Immediate treatment is necessary.
High blood pressure and heart attack
HBP is closely related to atherosclerosis, a coronary heart disease. The artery walls are blocked and harden with fatty substances making it difficult for the blood to flow. When you have HBP, the arteries face a lot more pressure when the blood is pumped. This makes the arteries weak resulting in lack of oxygen supply to the brain and the rest of the body, over time. Hence HBP could increase your chances of suffering from a heart attack.
How to prevent high blood pressure or hypertension
Hypertension is a controllable disease. You can avert and prevent HBP and hypertension if you incorporate a healthy diet along with exercise and medication.
Population–wide decrease in Blood Pressure can prevent 1,51,000 stroke and 1,53,000 coronary heart disease deaths in India each year.
95% of patients with high blood pressure have 'Primary Hypertension' that is – hypertension without any obvious medical cause. Many contributing factors may be present in these patients like obesity, alcohol or tobacco intake, high salt intake, low potassium or calcium intake, psychosocial stress, sedentary lifestyle, socioeconomic status or genetic factors.