Hypertension – a silent killer!

Posted by : Mr. Sreehari Nair, 06 Aug 2013 03:25 PM
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Hypertension (HTN) or high blood pressure, sometimes calledarterial hypertension, is a chronic medical condition in which the bloodpressure in the arteries is elevated. This requires the heart to work harderthan normal to circulate blood through the blood vessels.

Hypertension is called the Silent Killer because it producesno symptoms till late stages. Dr. Anil Ballani, Consultant Physician withHinduja Hospital says, “Major misconception that with hypertension is that peoplebelieve the patient would suffer from headache or giddiness. Most of thesesymptoms come up only when the B.P. reaches above 180 mm Hg. The incidence ofHypertension in community is almost 30-40%. As age increases the incidence of hypertension also increasesexponentially.”

The truth is hypertension is a multi-organ systematicdisease and the recording of BP is only a marker of a bigger problem. Dr.Ballani warns that it is wrong to consider hypertension as an isolated disease andthat primary and secondary prevention by therapeutic lifestyle changes is theanswer.

A study from Europe on 23,339 patients reveals that 60% ofthe total people surveyed suffer from uncontrolled hypertension while the rest40% had it under control. Of the 50% who were under treatment, 37% werediagnosed with hypertension while 63% were undiagnosed.

Diseases attributable to Hypertension are: Coronary heartdisease, Myocardial infarction, Left ventricular hypertrophy, Aortic aneurysm,Peripheral vascular disease, Retinopathy, Hypertensive encephalopathy, chronickidney failure, cerebral hemorrhage, stroke and heart failure.  

What causes hypertension?

There are several factors that have been highly associatedwith the condition. These include:

  • Smoking
  • Obesity or being overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Lack of physical activity
  • High levels of salt intake (sodium sensitivity). Permissible limit being 1,500 milligrams per day.  
  • Insufficient calcium, potassium, and magnesium consumption
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • High levels of alcohol consumption
  • Stress
  • Aging
  • Medicines such as birth control pills
  • Family history of hypertension
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Adrenal and thyroid problems or tumors

 Symptoms of Hypertension:

  • Severe headaches
  • Fatigue or confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Problems with vision
  • Chest pains
  • Breathing problems
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Blood in the urine

How can hypertension be prevented?

Adjusting your lifestyle so that there is a proper intake ofdiet and regular exercise is the key to avoid hypertension. Maintaining abalanced weight by limiting your salt intake, reducing alcohol intake (avoidingis best) and not inducing stress are some of the important factors that helpyou keep hypertension at check.

There is also a pressing need to spread awareness about hypertensionamong the common public so as early diagnosis and treatment can be provided tothe needy and thus it can be controlled in its earliest stages. 

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