Approximately 80% of high blood pressure-related deaths occur in developing nations. In US, about 73.6 million people suffer from high blood pressure. At present, one in every three adults has high blood pressure. According to a study, prevalence of high blood pressure in adults is expected to drastically rise by 2025.
What is High Blood Pressure? The main function of the heart is to supply fresh oxygen to all body parts, through the pumping of blood into the blood vessels (arteries). Arteries are the blood vessels that circulate blood to all organs of the body through the circulatory system. When the heart pumps blood, it generates a certain amount of force. Also, the arteries resist the flow of blood, thereby increasing that force. These two forces contribute to what we commonly call as blood pressure.
We must have checked or seen the blood pressure numbers in our medical reports or checkups. Suppose, a medical report shows a blood pressure number as 117/77 (read as 117 over 77). What do these numbers imply? Well, the top number, is the systolic blood pressure and the bottom one is the diastolic blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure refers to the contraction of the heart when it pumps blood into the body, whereas diastolic blood pressure is the time period in which the heart relaxes (expands).
Scientists have found a particular range of systolic and diastolic pressures that are required for the proper functioning of our body. Below 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) is considered to be suitable for adults (normal blood pressure). If the systolic blood pressure is between 120 to 139 and the diastolic is between 80 to 89 mmHg, then a blood pressure checkup becomes imperative, as it is a sign of prehypertension. A reading of 140/90 or higher is high blood pressure, and is dangerous to life.
One of the serious threats of high blood pressure is that it is a ‘silent killer’. People suffering from hypertension can be calm and still have high blood pressure problems. Generally, hypertension shows no symptoms and one needs a blood check to confirm it.
High blood pressure patients show symptoms of headache, dizziness, blurred vision and nausea in different intensities. Generally hypertension goes undetected, as people ignore early signs and don’t go for blood checks. High blood pressure that remains unchecked for a long period causes cardiac-related problems, such as heart attacks, strokes and heart failures. Kidney failure is another dangerous consequence of chronic hypertension. Loss of vision and arterial diseases can also be a result of unchecked hypertension. One should not ignore a blood pressure checkup and must include it in the regular procedure of his/her medical checks.
Mostly genetics and unhealthy lifestyles lead to high blood pressure. Still, its effective treatment is possible if we take care of the following measures.
Healthy Eating Habits
The ideal way to keep blood pressure under control is to have a planned dietary program. Fruits, green vegetables and low fat diets should be religiously included in your daily diet Lessening the intake of sodium and salt in diets is necessary. Usually, we end up consuming more salt than required.
Being over weight increases the risk of hypertension, so a check on one’s weight is mandatory. Yoga and breathing exercises are an effective tool to control and treat hypertension, though hypertension patients should consult an expert before they start practicing them. Apart from these, physical exercises such as swimming, jogging, walking and aerobics can work wonders in aiding the task of losing weight and reducing the effects of hypertension. An instructor or trainer can guide you with some effective exercises, that can go a long way in the treatment process.
Quit Smoking and Limit Alcohol Consumption
Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are closely related to hypertension. About 30% of deaths from heart diseases in US, are due to cigarette smoking. Smoking is the worst enemy of our heart and drinking too much alcohol can soar blood pressure levels. Besides, they also damage the liver, brain and heart. Even if one drinks alcohol, care must be taken to limit its consumption. Drugs are another addiction that may lead to severe heart diseases and even aggravate them.
There are various medicines that effectively treat high blood pressure. Seeking advice of an expert medical practitioner is necessary before going for any medication. There are 8 main medications for high blood pressure, some of which are diuretics, beta-blockers, vasodilators and alpha blockers. But any form of medication should only be taken on a certified medical practitioner’s prescription. This is so because most hypertension medicines have severe side effects, like nausea, headaches, heart palpitations, etc. Most hypertension drugs have the risks of ‘drug-to-drug interactions’. This basically means that consuming 2 or 3 medicines together, causes them to react with each other, resulting into something else altogether. I stress again, please go and see your physician before trying any self-help techniques.
With the combination of a healthy lifestyle and proper medications, hypertension can be easily treated. It is best, however, to prevent and control it, rather than trying to cure it.