Friday Health CornerHealth

LIFESTYLE SERIES 2 — HYPERTENSION

 

High blood pressure increases a person’s risk of heart diseases no matter when the person develops it. Young adults who develop high blood pressure are more at risk when they reach middle age, than those whose blood pressure is normal. Most of the young adults with high blood pressure have unhealthy lifestyles — like being overweight, eating fatty foods, lack of exercise, smoking or a combination of any of these habits.

Your blood pressure reading as a young man/lady can affect you when you are aged.

 

Hypertension is a silent killer, because you don’t really have symptoms until you already have some serious complications. Having your blood pressure well controlled decreases your risk of dying by 25%. It lowers your risk of having a heart attack by 21%, and of having stroke by 34%. Hypertension can be a disease in itself. It can also be secondary to another condition or underlying disease.

Don’t count on the way you feel to tell you if your blood pressure is high or not. Have a regular blood pressure check. High blood pressure is called ‘the silent killer’ because it causes damage in the body organs without signs or symptoms.

 

Risk Factors for Hypertension 

The risk factors for hypertension include:

  • Obesity
  • High alcoholic intake
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • High sodium intake
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Dyslipidaemia
  • Old age
  • Family history.

If you have risk factors for high blood pressure, you should monitor your BP periodically. If your BP is well controlled ,check it once a month, but if not well controlled, check daily.

What Harm Does High Blood Pressure Cause? 

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Heart failure
  • Peripheral vascular disease
  • Kidney damage
  • Visual damage
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Dementia

 

BLOOD PRESSURE GUIDE 

▪️Normal Blood Pressure = <120/<80 mmHg (recommendations: healthy lifestyle choices and yearly checks)

▪️Elevated Blood Pressure = 120-129/<80 mmHg (recommendations: healthy lifestyle changes, reassessed in 3-6 months)

 

▪️High Blood Pressure/Stage 1 = 130-139/80-89 mmHg (recommendations 10-year heart disease and stroke risk assessment, if less than 10% risk, lifestyle changes, reassessed in 3-6 months. If greater than 10% risk, lifestyle changes and medications with monthly follow-ups until blood pressure is controlled)

▪️High Blood Pressure/Stage 2 = ≥140/≥90 mmHg (Recommendations: lifestyle changes and two different classes of medicine, with monthly follow-ups until blood pressure is controlled)

Managing Hypertension

When seeking to lower your high blood pressure and having it under control it is not a wise idea to begin with pharmacological approach, there are natural ways of reducing it, a greater percentage of high blood pressure is caused by poor diet, lack of exercise and other bad habits. The management of hypertension may include the following:

Exercise: If you are obese and overweight, try to get your weight down. Regular exercise is good. It should also be noted that regular exercise is not the way to lose weight. Exercise helps to maintain your muscle mass. Regular exercise is also a good way to deal with stress.

Reduce Salt Intake: Salt is not bad for everybody, it is bad for some people. It is especially bad for those with high blood pressure because it raises their blood pressure slightly.

Healthy Diet: The way to lose weight is to control the things that you eat, and the main thing is to watch out for your carbohydrate intake. The DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet is a great approach to bring your high blood pressure under control.

Alcohol and Smoking Cessation: Smoking does the same damage to blood vessels as diabetes and high blood pressure do. Smoking in general is bad, but smoking if you have high blood pressure is insane. Alcohol also aggravates high blood pressure.

Use of Anti-Hypertensive: This should be the last line of action and should be a prescription from your doctor. If you are on medication, don’t count your pills; count the impact of the pills.

Intervention Targeted SBP/DBP
Sodium reduction 100mmol/day -5.8/-2.5
Weight loss -4.5kg -7.2/-5.9
Exercise 3 times/week -10.3/-7.5
Dietary pattern DASH diet -11.4/-5.5

SBP=Systolic Blood Pressure; DBP=Diastolic Blood Pressure; DASH=Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension.

Conclusion

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is the one most implicated risk factor of cardiovascular diseases. Lifestyle changes and regular monitoring of your blood pressure is very important.  There is no point measuring your blood pressure if you are not going to do anything about it when it is abnormal.

 

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