As per a study, Hypertension or high blood pressure (‘BP ki bimaari’ in Hindi) is the most important risk factor for chronic disease burden in India, the occurrence of which is increasing day by day. Not only in the elderly, this disease is spreading rapidly in the younger generation too. The main reason behind this scenario is the change that has been observed in the lifestyle. It is a good idea to understand about the condition thoroughly.
Here are 13 most commonly asked questions about Hypertension or High Blood Pressure:
1. What is blood pressure and hypertension?
The heart is formed with muscles. Due to the contraction and relaxation of the heart, systolic and diastolic pressure respectively can be observed. Due to this, blood is circulated all over the body. The pressure that is formed while blood circulates through the arteries, the blood pressure is generated.
Hypertension is cardiovascular disease. Unlike jaundice and typhoid which is caused due to infected water or dengue and malaria caused due to mosquito bite, there is no particular reason behind hypertension. But, usually inappropriate diet, obesity, aging and inheritance can be the possible reasons for hypertension.
2. What is systolic and diastolic pressure?
During blood circulation when the heart contracts, the pressure that takes place over the arteries is called systolic pressure. When the heart relaxes the pressure is called Diastolic pressure. The heartbeats are the result of this pressure which is created due to the contraction and relaxation of the heart. Precisely, if 120/80 mm Hg is reading of the Sphygmomanometer (a device which is used for measuring the blood pressure), 120 is the systolic pressure whereas 80 is the diastolic pressure.
3. What can be considered as normal blood pressure range?
Till the age of 50, normal range of systolic blood pressure should be 110 to 150 mm Hg and that of in diastolic pressure should be lower than 90 mm Hg. When systolic pressure is above 140 and diastolic pressure is greater than 90 mm Hg, then it can be assumed that it is hypertension or high BP.
4. What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?
- Frequent headache or heaviness
- Inability to focus on work, mistakes in basic maths, forgetting the sequence of events.
- Tiredness and irritated mood
- Increase in heartbeats or pain in the heart
- Reduced sexual drive
If the blood pressure is increased above a certain level then the following symptoms can be seen in the patient:
- Vision impairment
- Bleeding through nose
- Swelling on hands and legs
- Sometimes internal bleeding in the brain, kidney failure, heart attack
5. What kind of health issues are caused due to hypertension?
A number of health problems can be caused due to hypertension. Let’s take a look at a few major issues:
- Heart disease: Heart failure, ischemic heart disease (inadequate blood and oxygen supply to heart tissues), hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (The capacity of heart of blood pumping reduces due to the rigidity of muscles).
- Kidney disease: When the heart cannot function well, it leads to improper blood circulation. Consequently the blood vessels and filtration unit of the kidney do not work properly. Due to this, the kidney fails to release toxic and unwanted elements.
- Stroke: Hypertension causes Arthroscopic leakage or blockage. Due to this, a stroke can occur.
- Eye disease: Smaller vessels in the retina can be damaged due to hypertension. Vision can be affected due to this.
- Gangrene: Gangrene takes place due to the blood clots formed due to high blood pressure that are formed in the blood vessels of arteries and veins. The heart patients who smoke and consume tobacco are at a higher risk of contracting gangrene.
- Brain hemorrhage: The chance of brain hemorrhage is 10 percent when a person is suffering from high blood pressure. As per the experts, even if the blood pressure increases by small unit there are chances of stroke. When blood pressure increases the smaller vessels located in the brain become weak. Due to the defect in the work of these blood vessels, the obstruction is caused in the blood flow. It results in mental weakness of memory loss.
- Sexual problems: The defect in work system of blood vessels caused due to hypertension has an effect on other parts of the body. The blood vessels situated in the reproductive organ of men become narrow. Erectile dysfunction takes place due to this. In short, it becomes difficult for men to control their erection during sexual intercourse. Women who are suffering from hypertension tend to gain body weight. It results in dryness in vagina, lowering of sexual desire due to the inadequate blood supply to genital parts. The medicines which are consumed by heart patients can also cause this. Due to some anti-hypersensitive medicines, men may face problem in erection and women may face reduced sex drive.
- Insomnia (Lack of sleep): Hypertension also affects your sleep. People with high blood pressure tend to possess obstructive sleep apnoea. This causes problem in breathing during sleep and the person who suffers through this feels tired for the day.
- Cramps in legs: If the treatment on hypertension is not started for a long time, then it affects blood vessels present in the legs. Due to this these blood vessels become narrow and rigid. This problem is called Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). This causes difficulty in blood circulation in the legs followed by cramps and pain.
- Bone attrition: One may face problem in digestion of calcium due to high blood pressure. Especially, in old age women may siffer from lack of calcium. Due to this, bone attrition occurs.
6. Can high blood pressure cause death?
Yes, in some scenarios when it is beyond control.
- The inefficiency of heart: The heart of a person with high BP requires more efforts for blood circulation, causing aperiodic heartbeats. This causes lesser heart pumping than usual. This is called ‘heart failure’. With high blood pressure the probability of death is four times more due to this. The chances of Angina (A type of chest pain) and heart attack are more in the patients of high BP.
- Effects on kidney: If one has prolonged high blood pressure, chances of kidney failure are higher. Due to improper functioning of kidney, salt and other toxic waste products remain in the body. This causes swelling in the hands, legs, face, etc.
- Internal bleeding in the brain: Small blood vessels present in the brain can be ruptured due to high blood pressure resulting into the internal bleeding in the brain. Sometimes the largest blood artery which is called aorta becomes very delicate and its internal or external surface may swell. This situation is quite frightening and may cause death.
7. To control high blood pressure is it important to consult a doctor or self-medication may work?
There are 10 different groups of medicines. A different group can be suggested for the individuals with different health conditions. Doctor’s opinion in choosing the medicine is absolutely important. Hence, self-medication can be dangerous. During the checkup the person should be very relaxed. The blood pressure should be checked twice in a visit to the clinic, in the beginning, and at the end of the session. In this way once or twice a week the checkups should be performed. Blood pressure should be observed in three consecutive weeks. If the readings of blood pressure in these three weeks are greater than normal or if the readings are on the higher side in half or above no. of checkups then it can be assumed that those people are suffering from the disease of high blood pressure or hypertension. If the reading is very high, such as 180/120 then the person should be hospitalized immediately and medications to be initiated quickly in such cases.
8. How lifestyle should be changed to control high blood pressure?
Apart from the medicines, the following things need to be followed:
- Stay away from stress: Mental stress, anger and jealousy are the enemies of your health. To reduce stress, take the help of exercises which are designed to improve breathing. It helps the heart to stay calm.
- Keep yourself busy: Make yourself busy with the things you like. Keeping yourself engaged can reduce stress. Read good books, watch or listen to lectures and have a social circle.
- Add physical exercise: Include some physical activity in your daily routine. It could be a simple walk, run, cycling, yoga, aerobics, gym or anything that interests you and suits your body requirements.
- Sleep well: Have adequate hours of sleep in the night. Avoid consuming sleeping pills. To get rid of the stress:you can go for a picnic with family on Sunday. It will help you reduce your stress and boredom.
- Quit smoking and avoid tobacco consumption: Smoking and tobacco consumption is very harmful for hypertensive patients. The extra dosage of medicines is required for the patients who smoke. It is better to quit smoking and tobacco consumption.
- Lose weight: Losing your weight can help you reduce blood pressure. Extra weight is extra work for heart, as it takes more efforts to supply the blood to the fat present in the body. This additional task can stress the heart. The bad cholesterol present in the blood is deposited gradually in the blood vessels. Due to this, the blood vessels become narrow and rigid. Their flexibility decreases.
9. What diet should be followed to control high blood pressure?
It is important to have a balanced diet to lose weight.
- Vegetables: Add green vegetables, salads, carrot, radish, cucumber, tomato, raw vegetables to your diet. Also, you can have meals twice a day including fresh fruits, rice, daal, chapati, etc.
- Salt: Many people are habitual of adding extra salt to their food. This habit can be harmful for patients with high blood pressure. Every day one should consume 3-5 mg of salt. Salt can be replaced with lemon juice, black pepper, cumin seeds.
- Oil and ghee: Don’t apply oil or excess ghee to chapatis. Avoid fried food items.
- Milk products: Consume less milk or milk cream along with tea, coffee, etc.
- Sugar: Avoid cake, ice-cream, chocolate, sweets, jam, butter, cheese, dry fruits, liquor, etc.
- Spicy food: Try to avoid meat and spicy food as much as possible.
- Minerals: Add calcium and potassium minerals in an appropriate amount to your diet.
10. Which exercises can be suggested to a person with high blood pressure?
- With the help of exercise and Yoga, high blood pressure can be reduced.
- Exercises like fast walking, swimming, cycling, aerobics, running can be helpful in patients of high blood pressure. These types of exercise are called isotonic exercise. These exercises increase the capacity of heart in terms of blood circulation. It increases the speed of blood flow in the body decreasing the rigidity of blood vessels.
- Yoga is helpful in heart patients. Especially, Shavasana, Padmasana, Yogmudra, Dhanurasana, Konasana are very helpful in high blood pressure. It is advised to obtain training from a Yoga teacher.
- Some forms of meditations like ‘Pratyahar, Dhyan, Dharana and Samadhi reduces the chance of high blood pressure and heart disease.
11. Which kind of exercises should not be done if you are a high blood pressure or heart patient?
- Avoid exercise of weight lifting, push-ups, suryanamaskara, etc.
- A position in which head is at the bottom and legs are in the air (Sheershasana) should be avoided when you are a heart patient.
12. What is the correlation of cholesterol and high blood pressure?
Additional cholesterol in your blood, though, may increase risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke. The concern is that if your cholesterol is high, the excess oily stuff will stick to the walls of arteries. Over time, this excess can create a fatty buildup, much like dirt and grime can build up inside a garden hose.
13. Which tests to be conducted in case of high blood pressure?
Periodic tests such as ECG, blood sugar, work capacity of kidney, lipid profile, urine test, thyroid test, sonography are important. Also, regular blood pressure checkup is necessary so that we can escape from health issues caused due to hypertension.
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