Hypertension is one of the most common chronic diseases. At the same time, it also the commonly ignored issue. As per a study conducted by NCBI, about 33% urban and 25% rural Indians are hypertensive. Caused due to high blood pressure, hypertension does not exhibit evident symptoms. However, uncured prolonged hypertension can lead way to various problems ranging from heart to loss of vision.
The persistently elevated levels of stress, together with other lifestyle factors such as lack of physical activity, sleep deprivation, skipping of meals and consumption of unhealthy diet makes become contributing factors for Hypertension. The condition, if left untreated can lead to heart disease, stroke or kidney damage. Hypertension is also a common risk factor that may lead to abnormal heartbeat, and the two conditions together can significantly up the risk of stroke.
Commonly known as high blood pressure, the condition is responsible for at least 45% of deaths due to a heart disease and 51% of deaths due to stroke, says the WHO. Highlighting the hazards of hypertension, doctors at Columbia Asia Hospital, Patiala, suggest people to opt for preventive checkups to keep the blood pressure under tab, which can further help in preventing the condition.
“With our present day lifestyle, the threat of hypertension is always hovering around. Many a time, high blood pressure does not show very overt symptoms. Often, people may have headaches or feeling of dizziness, which they ignore, believing them to be trivial issues. Several times, we see patients who are shocked or surprised to know they have high blood pressure because they had not seen it coming. This is dangerous as high blood pressure is one of the major triggering factors of heart attacks and strokes. However, the hazard of hypertension does not stop with heart attacks. Common lacks such as smoking, obesity, less or no physical exercise, insufficient intake of minerals namely, calcium, potassium, and magnesium, high level of alcohol consumption, stress and many others often lead to hypertension. Consequently, we have cases of coronary artery disease, kidney damage, stroke and disability and erectile dysfunction, all resulting from hypertension,” said Dr. Jeewan Mittal.
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of 40% deaths. There is lack of gender specific data on this count, but clinical daily experience suggests a high incidence of coronary artery disease in women as well. The single most prominent risk factor for cardiovascular disease is hypertension or constantly elevated blood pressure levels. Yet, hypertension is often underestimated and undiagnosed, especially among women. While it is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and outcomes in women, for the women who have achieved menopause, the risk of developing hypertension is higher as compared to women under the age of 50 years. In women between the ages of 50 and 74 years, the prevalence of hypertension is as high as 58%.
“Post menopause, the level of estrogen decreases significantly. The drop in estrogen level instigates high blood pressure and brings detrimental changes in cholesterol levels. It is important to women to have the knowledge of changes in their body that happens with age. Subsequently, they should be aware of the pros and cons of the change. Menopause is a significant change in women and one of the prime factors for making them prone to hypertension and cardiovascular diseases. Now, since they cannot change the nature of anatomy, they can certainly make changes such as lifestyle to reduce the probable risks,” added Dr. Deepak Katyal.
Hypertension does not have any noticeable symptoms, even if the blood pressure levels are dangerously high. However, certain signals of heart disease may be noticed. These symptoms in women may differ than in men. Women with heart disease may experience symptoms like shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and back or jaw pain. By managing and reducing stress, exercising regularly, eating healthy diet, keeping weight under check and visiting a doctor regularly for checking blood pressure, one can dramatically reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.
“Many a time, even after they are diagnosed with high blood pressure, people often neglects it and do not take medication regularly. This is another dangerous trend that can be life threatening. If hypertension is detected early, one can effectively prevent complications. When it comes to lowering blood pressure, exercise has proven as effective as medication. Exercising for about 30–60 minutes almost every day can help you. Start out slowly, walking to the mailbox, taking the stairs, or leaving your car at the far end of the parking lot. Then, add time and distance as you build up strength and endurance. It really doesn’t matter so much what you do, only that you enjoy it enough to stick with it over time,” opined Dr. Jeewan Mittal.