Systemic hypertension is a very common cardiovascular ailment. SimpIy put, you have hypertension when your blood pressure is higher than 140/90 consistently.
According to the World Health Organisation almost 1.32 billion people all over the world have hypertension. Almost one in every four men and one in every five women suffer from this disease.
A recent study in India shows 22% of Indians in the age bracket of 20 to 44 years have it; 40% in the age group of 45 to 54 years suffer from it; and a whopping 50% of the population above the age of 55 years has hypertension.
Hypertension often goes unnoticed
Many people do not realise that they have hypertension, as they never develop any symptoms. Often hypertension is detected during regular health check-ups or it gets incidentally detected when you visit the doctor for some other reason.
If hypertension remains uncontrolled for a long duration, it can affect organs like your heart, brain, kidneys, and eyes. The most common complications associated with high blood pressure are heart failure, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and damage to retina leading to blindness.
It is essential to prevent hypertension early on
Epidemiological studies prove that hypertension is not only prevalent in elderly, but also in young adults. Which is why it is essential for people in their 20s and 30s to get their BP checked from a young age.
The best way to prevent hypertension is by taking these steps right from a young age to reduce high blood pressure:
1. Eat a healthy diet
DASH diet pattern helps in preventing and managing high blood pressure. DASH stands for dietary approach to stop hypertension. It focuses on fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, moderate amounts of whole grain, fish, poultry, and nuts.
People who are vegetarians can avoid poultry and fish and can consume pulses and soybean for protein. Fruits and vegetables supply potassium which helps in reducing blood pressure. Your salt intake should be less than 5 gm/day as excess salt can lead to hypertension.
2. Exercise regularly
The American heart association recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes per week of high-intensity aerobic exercise. Regular exercise can decrease systolic BP by 5 to 8 mm Hg in people with high blood pressure.
3. Lose that weight
If your BMI is between 20 to 25, then you are at your ideal weight. But if it’s higher than that, then you need to reduce your weight to keep your blood pressure in check. Reducing weight by even one kilo can lower your blood pressure by one point.
4. Quit smoking
Perhaps you already know this, but here’s a gentle reminder nonetheless: smoking can increase your blood pressure. It goes without saying that cessation of smoking has multiple health benefits apart from the prevention of hypertension.
5. Also limit your drinking
Excess alcohol can increase your blood pressure too. Limit your alcohol intake to occasions and even then–you must drink in moderation.
6. Cut out the stress from your life
Stress is part of life–be it work stress, family stress, or financial stress. But being stressed all the time can be damaging to health. Studies have shown that stress can elevate blood pressure.
So you must keep your stress levels in check, by giving time to your family; taking a break once in a while; indulging in hobbies; and practicing yoga.
Prevention is better than cure, especially when it comes to hypertension. So follow these recommendations and stay healthy.