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HYPERTENSION: BEWARE THE SILENT KILLER ON THE PROWL

by Suman Gupta

Dr. Prabhakara Shetty Heggunje, Consultant – Cardiology, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital Yeshwanthpur

One of the deadliest disorder that is wrecking mayhem in today’s society is hypertension. Hypertension or commonly known as high blood pressure is  a medical condition which occurs when the arterial blood pressure rises above the normal level (120/80 mmHg) on repeated measurements. . It is the prime cause of an array of major health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, aneurysms, loss of vision and dementia. A great number of people suffering from hypertension are not aware of their condition since in most cases the ailment does not manifest any visible symptoms. Often a heart attack or stroke acts as the wake-up call for hypertension and thus many a time too late for any treatment. Hence, hypertension is often called the silent killer!

To educate the masses and increase their awareness and cognizance of hypertension its prevention and complications World Hypertension League (WHL) celebrates World Hypertension Day every year on May 17. This year, the theme for the World Hypertension Day is Know Your Numbers, by which WHL intends to encourage people to participate in May Measurement Month. In this new enterprise which started in 2017, screening sites will be set up across the world to check the blood pressure of the public. The WHL recommends that the blood pressure for the general population without complications needs to be less than 140/90 mmHg whereas for people suffering from diabetes mellitus or chronic kidney disease, it should not go beyond 130/80 mmHg.

Hypertension is both genetically mediated and lifestyle related disease; stress too, has an upper hand there! In many cases, hypertension can be inherited by the children from their parents who suffer from hypertension.   A sedentary lifestyle, lack of exercise, substance abuse, smoking, use of oral contraceptive pills also aid in causing hypertension. Although termed as the silent killer since clear symptoms of the ailment do not manifest, severe hypertension does show certain symptoms of headaches, drowsiness, fatigue palpitation, confusion, blurred vision, ringing sensation in the ears, irregular heartbeat and difficulty in breathing.

Depending on the causal factors, there are two types of hypertension: primary or essential hypertension and secondary hypertension. The primary hypertension is more prevalent in the society but its causes are not known.  The secondary hypertension is generally caused due to kidney damage, tumours, adrenal gland over-activity, coarctation of the aorta, sleep apnoea syndrome, substance abuse, thyroid gland dysfunction, etc.

Today’s youth are competitive and are too focussed on their professional growth at the cost of their health. As a result, one in every three Indian adults suffers from hypertension. According to the reports by the World Health Organization, 23.10% men and 22.60% women above the age of 25 years, today are victims of hypertension. Even kids today are not immune from hypertension! The grimmest part is that for about 90% patients, the causal factors leading to the ailment are unknown and 50% of the patients are totally oblivious to their afflictions. Specialist doctors of Columbia Asia Hospital Yeshwanthpur recommend a strict regulation of overall lifestyle to prevent the menace of hypertension.

To prevent and keep a check on hypertension, it is imperative that we maintain a healthy lifestyle and follow healthy food habits and exercise regularly. We should include a lot of fruits and greens in the diet and restrict the intake of sodium (1.5 to 2.5 g). The diet should be high on fibres and low in fats. It is mandatory that we get our BP checked at regular intervals. Efforts should be taken to lower bad cholesterol level in the body. One can indulge in aerobics, yoga or Zumba to maintain healthy body weight and regulate blood pressure. Care should be taken to avoid taking stress as much as possible. Alcoholism and smoking too should be avoided as should be junk and oily food. Remember Hypertension creeps in slowly and silently but hits hard, in many cases it proves to be fatal without even giving a chance at treatment. Healthy living is the only mantra today to keep this sneaking assassin at bay.

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