Hypertension is called a “silent killer”, because most people with hypertension are unaware of the problems it causes with no warning signs and symptoms. For this reason, it is essential to keep a tab on your blood pressure on a regular basis.

Hypertension can be a major contributing factor for heart disease and should not be ignored. It is the leading cause of premature death worldwide.

Here’s all you need to know.

High blood pressure – look at the numbers

Blood pressure can be defined as the force of your blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps blood. In case of high blood pressure (hypertension), this force is higher than the normal.

The reading of the blood pressure has two numbers. Top number reads a higher number than the two, called systolic pressure and the bottom is called diastolic pressure. Systolic indicates the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats and the diastolic pressure measures the force of blood in your arteries while your heart is relaxed between the beats.

Normal pressure is 120/80 or lower, if the numbers are elevated – it indicates high blood pressure and needs proper medical attention for its management. If the systolic pressure is 180 or higher – it is a medical emergency situation, called “hypertensive crisis” and needs immediate attention.

Why is identifying high blood pressure important?

Many people with hypertension don’t even know they have it. It develops slowly over time and its occurrence can be due to varied underlying causes.

According to WHO, approximately about 46% of the adults are estimated to not know of their diagnosis, and only 1 in 5 adults have their blood pressure in control.

It can be observed in people in late 30s or early 40s. It is common in adults, however, with increasing obesity issues, more and more children are also leaning towards developing high blood pressure.

It is because of these reasons, it is important to identify blood pressure early, so the management is easy. High blood pressure is noted as the primary contributing factors for many diseases. It puts you at an increased risk of heart diseases including heart failure, stroke and other cardiac events.

Symptoms and Risk factors for hypertension

Hypertension is tricky as it actually shows no warning signs or symptoms. For this reason, it should be detected by a proper healthcare professional.

However, hypertension shows some symptoms that can be easily confused or misunderstood for other diseases. Some of the symptoms include:

  1. Early morning headaches
  2. Irregular heart rhythms (arrythmia)
  3. Vision problems
  4. Nosebleeds
  5. Buzzing in the ears

Severe symptoms include fatigue, nausea, vomiting, memory issues, muscle cramps, anxiety and chest pain.

Risk factors include –

Modifiable risk factors:

  1. Unhealthy eating habits with more salt intake, diets with high saturated fat and trans fats, less fruits and vegetables.
  2. Less physical inactivity
  3. Being overweight
  4. Consumption of tobacco or alcohol

Non-modifiable risk factors:

  1. Family history of hypertension
  2. Older than 65 years
  3. Other existing health conditions e.g. diabetes

Complications of hypertension

Among the health conditions, hypertension causes major damage to the heart health. Excessive pressure can decrease the flow of blood and oxygen to heart and in turn to other organs a as well, some of the complication of high blood pressure are listed below:

  1. Chest pain (also called angina)
  2. Heart attack
  3. Heart failure
  4. Irregular heart beat (also called arrythmia)
  5. Brain stroke
  6. Kidney damage

Prevention and Management of hypertension

Hypertension cannot be cured, but can be managed from causing further damage. Best way is to aware of the risks and making timely adjustments to your lifestyle.

Some of the prevention tips include:

  1. Reducing salt intake
  2. Eating diets with low saturated fats and trans fats
  3. Including more fruits and vegetables
  4. Avoiding tobacco usage and alcohol consumption
  5. Being physically active

Management could look like:

  1. Incorporating lifestyle changes
  2. Decreasing salt intake
  3. Losing weight
  4. Regular exercise
  5. Cutting down on alcohol
  6. Continuing the medication to help lower and control blood pressure
  7. Regular check-up of blood pressure
  8. Managing other health conditions (if any)
  9. Reducing and managing stress

Reducing and controlling hypertension prevents from welcoming other health problems.

References:

  1. High Blood Pressure–Understanding the Silent Killer. U.S. Food & Drug. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/special-features/high-blood-pressure-understanding-silent-killer
    Accessed on 08-05-2022
  2. Why High Blood Pressure is a “Silent Killer”. American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/why-high-blood-pressure-is-a-silent-killer
    Accessed on 08-05-2022
  3. Hypertension. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/hypertension
    Accessed on 08-05-2022
  4. Hypertension – The ‘SILENT KILLER’. Max Healthcare. https://www.maxhealthcare.in/blogs/hypertension-silent-killer
    Accessed on 08-05-2022
  5. High blood pressure: The silent killer. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/high-blood-pressure-the-silent-killer
    Accessed on 08-05-2022
  6. High blood pressure (hypertension). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/high-blood-pressure/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20373417
    Accessed on 08-05-2022
  7. High blood pressure (hypertension). NHS. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/treatment/
    Accessed on 08-05-2022c

 

Hypertension- Why is it called a silent killer and how to manage it?
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