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Hypertension The Silent Killer

Identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the leading cause of cardiovascular mortality, hypertension is fast becoming a public health challenge. Let’s understand its causes, symptoms and treatment

Commonly called high blood pressure, hypertension is a chronic medical condition in which blood pressure in the arteries is elevated, requiring the heart to work harder than normal to circulate blood. It is important to ensure that blood pressure is maintained at optimal levels. The condition of pre-hypertension cautions an individual about the advent of hypertension.It is prudent to exert preventive techniques to ensure that pre-hypertension does not culminate into hypertension.

CAUSES

The main causes associated with high blood pressure are:

Obesity High level of salt intake Diabetes
Stress and anxiety Low levels of calcium, potassium and magnesium consumption Ageing
Family history of
hypertension
Conditions of blood vessels, kidneys and nervous systems Smoking and alcohol
consumption

SYMPTOMS

High blood pressure is often cited as “the silent killer” – most people realise they suffer from hypertension only after a heart attack. Patients develop heart disease and kidney problems without getting the slightest hint that they might be suffering from high blood pressure. The World Hypertension League (WHL) recognised that more than 50% of the hypertensive population worldwide is unaware of their condition. High blood pressure is often diagnosed due to frequent checking. It is therefore advisable to check periodically for early detection.

TREATMENT

Hypertension is almost always accompanied by obesity, diabetes, kidney disease or other co-existing problems involving lifestyle or genetics. The treatment for hypertension includes a mix of lifestyle changes and medication:

Prevention and treatment of obesity: Excess weight adds strain on the heart. In some cases, weight loss may be the only treatment needed. It can be as simple as taking a walk for 30 minutes a day or pursuing an outdoor sport to shed off the extra kilos.

Adopting low-salt diets: Limiting sodium intake by minimising the consumption of table salt, cooking salt, salty and processed foods can reduce blood pressure by 5 mm hg approximately.

Use dietary supplements: Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products while reducing the total and saturated fat intake is useful. Incorporating adequate dietary supplements like potassium, calcium and magnesium helps in reducing hypertension.

Stress reducing techniques: Relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga reduce stress and anxiety. They also help in taming aggression leading to stable blood pressure. Keeping a check on stress levels prevents the constriction of arteries and veins.

Optimising blood sugar levels: If one has diabetes, keeping the blood sugar under control is one of the surest ways to manage hypertension.

In addition to these treatments, it is valuable to periodically check blood pressure and pulse rate. A normal resting heart rate (pulse) is between 66 and 82. Visit the doctor if the rate is often on the higher side. Get routine health assessments and blood pressure screening to ensure early detection of any factors pointing towards hypertension.

Hypertension threatens to be the next pandemic. Start exercising, use dietary supplements and reduce the amount of stress and anxiety to steer away from this silent killer.

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