• Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and hypertension is one of the major reasons for it.

Silently permeating lives because of unhealthy lifestyles, hypertension is a health crisis that requires attention at the global level. Although high blood pressure was earlier associated with the older population, children as young as 15 are experiencing this condition.

According to the India Hypertension Control the Initiative (IHCI), there are
millions of adults with hypertension in Nigeria, of which few have their blood pressure under control.

How is hypertension a silent killer?

On World Hypertension Day (May 17), experts spoke about what makes hypertension a silent killer and how to keep it in check.

“Symptoms are typically first to appear in any medical condition, but hypertension silently causes damage to arteries and vital organs over time without any outward signs. This lack of overt symptoms often leads to a false sense of security, frequently underestimating the severity of their condition until it’s too late,” said Dr Nityanand Tripathi, Director and HOD, Cardiology and Electrophysiology, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, Delhi, India.

Hypertension also causes relentless assault on delicate vessels in the brain, heightening the likelihood of a debilitating stroke.

Dr Vikram B Aglave, Neurologist, Ruby Hall Clinic, said that high blood pressure can eventually cause blood clots by altering the function of platelets and other components of the blood coagulation system.

“When blood pressure is consistently elevated, the risk of developing abnormal blood clots increases, further raising the likelihood of a stroke,” said Dr Aglave.

The expert added that ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke that occurs when a clot blocks a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain, as a result of hypertension.

Besides this, chronic hypertension leads to a condition called atherosclerosis. This is characterised by the build-up of fatty deposits, cholesterol, and other substances in the arteries.

“Atherosclerosis can lead to the narrowing and hardening of the arteries, reducing blood flow to the brain. This narrowing of the blood vessels, combined with the increased propensity for clot formation, raises the risk of both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes,” said Dr Aglave.

Kidneys are essential for filtering waste and maintaining fluid balance but because of constant high blood pressure, they suffer damage, potentially culminating in renal failure.

Doctors suggest that people with risk factors like obesity, poor diet, or a family history of hypertension can lead to early detection management.

According to Dr Tushar Tayal, Consultant, Internal Medicine, CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, India, the primary causes are related to the consumption of excess salt, lack of exercise, smoking, obesity and inadequate sleep.

As per major guidelines, hypertension is diagnosed when a person’s systolic blood pressure (top reading) in the office or clinic is more than 140 mm Hg and/or their diastolic blood pressure (lower reading) is more or equal to 90 mm Hg following repeated examination.

Dr Tayal advised that salt intake in a hypertensive person “should be less than 2.5 grams per day or 1/2 teaspoon in the entire day.”

Besides this, 30 min of daily exercise inclusive of cardio and strength training will keep your blood pressure under control, the expert added.

Having daily intake of two fruits and three vegetables every day, which are rich in potassium, can help lowering blood pressure as well.

“Last but not the least, 7 hours of sleep daily is essential for maintain immunity and healthy body functions as well as blood pressure,” said Dr Tayal.

*How to correctly check your blood pressure

• Sit in a comfortable chair with your back supported for at least 5 minutes

* Put both feet flat on the ground and keep your legs uncrossed

* Rest your arm with the cuff on a table at chest height

* Make sure the blood pressure cuff is snug but not too tight

* Do not smoke, drink caffeinated beverages or exercise within 30 minutes before measuring your blood pressure.


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