May 17 is observed every year with an aim to promote public awareness about hypertension (high blood pressure).
Introduced by the World Hypertension League in 2005, the World Hypertension Day not only seeks for treatment methods to overcome it, it is aimed at creating awareness about the healthy lifestyle choices that one can adapt to avoid hypertension.
In contemporary times, blood pressure is emerging to be a growing health concern among young and elderly alike. Flawed lifestyle choices together with stress could lead to many diseases including hypertension, diabetes and heart diseases.
According to the World Health Organization, modifiable risk factors include unhealthy diets (excessive salt consumption, a diet high in saturated fat and trans fats, low intake of fruits and vegetables), physical inactivity, consumption of tobacco and alcohol, and being overweight or obese.
Non-modifiable risk factors include a family history of hypertension, age over 65 years and co-existing diseases such as diabetes or kidney disease.
According to it, an estimated 1.28 billion adults aged 30–79 years worldwide have hypertension, most (two-thirds) living in low- and middle-income countries. An estimated 46% of adults with hypertension are unaware that they have the condition. Less than half of adults (42%) with hypertension are diagnosed and treated. Approximately 1 in 5 adults (21%) with hypertension have it under control.
Also hypertension is a major cause of premature death worldwide. One of the global targets for noncommunicable diseases is to reduce the prevalence of hypertension by 33% between 2010 and 2030, the WHO says.
Lifestyle changes, the WHO says, can help lower high blood pressure. These include: eating a healthy, low-salt diet; losing weight; being physically active and quitting tobacco.
While WHO recommends consuming less than 5 grams of salt per day, salt intake is double, nearly 11 grams per day, in Kashmir Valley, according to a doctors’ body.
As per it, large meta-analysis of thirty four trials showed that modest reduction in salt intake for four or more weeks causes a significant fall in blood pressure in both hypertensive and normotensive individuals.
These results support a reduction in population salt intake which will keep hypertension at bay, the Doctors Association said.
The experts say that hypertension increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, the two leading causes of death and disability in the Valley.
In such a scenario, people need to add less salt to food during preparation and avoid processed foods. Instead focus should be on foods that are fresh, natural and free of added salt.