All you need to know about hypertension

Hypertension is one of the most common lifestyle diseases today, with every third per-son we meet, having suffered from it. And experts say that even kids can be victims of high blood pressure. Read on to find out more…Hypertension is one of the most common lifestyle diseases today, with every third per-son we meet, having suffered from it. And experts say that even kids can be victims of high blood pressure. The fact is that in 90% patients there is no known cause for hyper-tension and this makes it even more impor-tant to be alert. Most are not even aware that they have hypertension,which makes the scenario rather grim.Cause for worry?Hypertension is likely to end up being an epi-demic in the near future, and approximately one-third of our population will suffer from it by 2020, states senior surgeon Dr Ramakanta Panda. He adds, “It has been increasing con-sistently since 1980. Currently, estimates put the incidence of hypertension to 20 to 40% in urban areas and 12 to 17% in rural areas of India.”Grim statistics“One in three Indian adults has high blood pressure. Anyone, including children, can develop it,” says interventional cardiologist Dr Nilesh Gautam. According to the World Health Statistics 2012 report, India has low rates of hypertension compared to world fig-ures. Here, 23.10% men and 22.60% women above 25 years suffer from hypertension. In-dia also fares better than the global average of 29.20 in men and 24.80 in women respec-tively.Dr Panda explains, “However, in absolute numbers, this is a huge population. A big-ger problem is that people are normally not aware that they have hypertension. This could potentially be a gray area affecting the numerical estimation.”What is hypertensionHypertension is defined as a repeatedly el-evated blood pressure, exceeding 140 over 90 mmHg — a systolic pressure above 140 with a diastolic pressure above 90, says Dr Panda.Dr Gautam explains, “Blood pressure is the force of blood against your artery walls as it circulates through your body. Blood pres-sure normally rises and falls throughout the day, but can cause health problems if it stays high for a long time. High BP can lead to heart disease and stroke — leading causes of death in India.”Killer disease“High blood pressure or hypertension kills nearly 1.5 million people every yearin South-East Asia,” says Dr Panda.Factors that are responsibleLate eating, excessive time spent on smart-phones by youngsters who seem to be living in a virtual world instead of physically walk-ing around and getting to know people per-sonally, sedentary lifestyles etc contribute majorly to the rise in hypertension, says Dr Panda.Adds Dr Gautam, “Several factors beyond your control increase the risk for high BP. These include your age, sex, race or ethnic-ity.”Causes for hypertensionIn a majority of the patients (almost 90 per cent) there is no known cause for the high blood pressure, states Dr Vijay D’silva, criti-cal care specialist of a heart institute. He says, “The basic reason for high blood pres-sure is atherosclerosis. There are multiple factors responsible which lead to atheroscle-rosis resulting in hypertension which in-clude stress, sedentary lifestyle, faulty food habits, lack of exercise etc. A small group of patients with high blood pressure have what is called secondary hypertension, in which the high blood pressure is the result of an-other condition or illness, such as kidney dis-eases, disorders of the thyroid, pituitary or adrenal glands, pregnancy, obesity and sleep disorders and adverse effects of medicines.”Preventing hypertension“People should follow an active lifestyle which will help in weight loss. Even small amounts of weight loss can make a big differ-ence in helping to prevent high blood pres-sure,” says Dr D’silva.He adds that regular physical exercise is cru-cial, as people who are physically active have a lower risk of suffering from blood pressure than those who lead a sedentary lifestyle.Dr Gautam says, “You can work to reduce your risk for hypertension by following a healthy diet, maintaining healthy weight, not smoking, and being physically active.”In today’s scenario, where everyone is work-ing towards achieving a target to climb up the corporate ladder, strict lifestyle modifica-tions can go a long way in reducing the men-acing effects of hypertension.Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to…Heart attack or strokeHigh blood pressure can cause hardening and thickening of the arteries (atherosclero-sis), which can lead to a heart attack, stroke or other complications.AneurysmIncreased blood pressure can cause your blood vessels to weaken and bulge, forming an aneurysm. If an aneurysm ruptures, it can be life-threatening.Heart failureTo pump blood against the higher pressure in your vessels, your heart muscle thickens. Eventually, the thickened muscle may have a hard time pumping enough blood to meet your body’s needs, which can lead to heart failure.Organ malfunctionWeakened and narrowed blood vessels in your kidneys. This can prevent these organs from functioning normally.Vision lossThickened, narrowed or torn blood vessels in the eyes. This can result in vision loss.Metabolic syndromeThis syndrome is a cluster of disorders of your body’s metabolism, including increased waist circumference, high triglycerides, low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or ‘good,’ cholesterol, high blood pressure and high in-sulin levels.