May 17 is World Hypertension Day

 May 17 is World Hypertension Day

Hypertension raises risk of heart attack & brain stroke.

Hypertension coupled with stress and lack of sleep raises risk of heart attack and brain attack risk by four times.

Vinod Viplav

High Blood Pressure or hypertension, coupled with stress and lack of sleep, raises the risk of heart attack and brain stroke by up to four times. High blood pressure is a significant risk factor for heart disease and brain stroke and when hypertension is paired with lack of sleep and stress, the risk increases even more sharply, say health experts.

Leading cardiologist and medical director of New Delhi-based Kalra Hospital & Sri Ram Cardio-Thoracic & Neurosciences Centre (SRCNC), DrRN Kalra says high blood pressure raises the risk of heart attack because when blood pressure gets elevated, the heart has to work harder to pump blood. This extra work thickens the muscles of the heart and it can harden or damage artery walls. As a result, less oxygen makes its way to the organs of the body and the heart get damaged over time to due to its increased workload.

It is estimated that one in four Indian suffer from hypertension, with 50 per cent not even aware of the condition.

Dr Rahul Gupta, Director of Neuro Surgery at New Delhi-based Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre puts in that high blood pressure is the leading cause of strokes, both symptomatic and silent. Both systolic and diastolic hypertension contribute to the risk; the higher your pressure, the higher your risk. According to recent studies, hypertension increases risk of stroke by more than 200 per cent.

Dr Gupta puts in that hypertension is a silent killer and people should get their BP checked regularly. Keeping blood pressure in control is essential to prevent life-threatening events. Healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, quitting tobacco use, seven hours of sleep, stress management, high intake of fruits and limited alcohol intake are most important in prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

In India, a staggering 139 million people are suffering from uncontrolled hypertension, and the number is growing every year. According to WHO, high blood pressure is responsible for 57 per cent of all stroke-related deaths and 24 per cent of all coronary heart disease deaths in India. “The reason the condition is termed ‘silent killer’ is because more than 30 per cent people who have high blood pressure are not even aware of it. Most of the times, there are very minor symptoms or no symptoms at all. Some of the signs you must look out for are difficulty in breathing, chest pain or heaviness, headaches, irregular heartbeat (palpitation), problems in vision, problems in urination,” shares Dr Kalra.

He says “These small indicators may harbour some consequences as damage of arteries and vital organs of the body which may further lead to life-threatening medical emergencies. Therefore, we must not only identify and control hypertension but also promote a healthy lifestyle and preventive strategies to decrease the prevalence of hypertension in the general population.

Dr Gupta says what is most worrisome fact about hypertension is that it can affect any age group. Thought to be the disease of the elderly or the obese, it is being more frequently diagnosed in the youth. Hypertension can affect any organ of the body, be it the brain, the heart or the kidneys. Patients can complain of headaches, tiredness, anxiety, dizziness, weakness, confusion nausea, chest pain and even weakness in one side of the body.

He says that although hypertension can be genetic or secondary to a disease, most often the cause is poor lifestyle choices like lack of sleep, weight gain, lack of exercise, stress, long working hours, smoking, junk food, excessive alcohol intake etc. Treatment of hypertension is almost always with medicines but lifestyle modifications can prevent high blood pressure as well as keep the medicines to a minimum. Lifestyle modifications not only include exercise and yoga biut adopting a healthy diet is the cornerstone for a healthy body.

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