High Blood Pressure: A Silent Killer

High blood pressure shows no symptoms in the body, yet is one of the top reasons of death in the country. In simple words, high blood pressure means that your body is putting an increased pressure on your heart to pump blood across the body. The usual onset of high blood pressure in an individual takes place between the age of 20 to 50 years.

High BP aka Hypertension is also known as the ‘silent killer’. The name silent killer signifies its fatal nature along with its ability to remain undetected in the body.

According to Dr Parneesh Arora, Additional director, Fortis hospital, “Ninety to 95 percent of patients do not even know they have high blood pressure, as there are no real symptoms. It is usually when ‘target organ damage’ occurs that an individual comes to know about the condition. About 10 percent of people report headaches but that too can be because of migraine or some other form of headache. There is a slight change in the blood pressure readings even in the case of migraine so it would be wrong to judge one episode of high blood pressure reading as hypertension.” The organs that are most prone to ‘target organ damage’ are kidneys, eyes, brain, arteries, and heart. Surprisingly, one in every 10 hypertensive patients has already suffered from some sort of target organ damage.

Headache, as we all know, is one of the most common pains but can tell a lot. Dr. Naresh Trehan, chairman, Heart Institute, Medanta Medcity points out, “It may be a common pain but for some reason, people tend to ignore it. Persistent headache or headache appearing time and again could be a sign of high blood pressure and one should never ignore it.”

Doctors usually monitor blood pressure for over 15 days before concluding whether an individual is suffering from hypertension or not. People with parents having some history of hypertension are more prone to the problem. If you are a smoker, regular drinker or take salt in excess quantity, then regular blood pressure checks must be on your priority list.

Help yourself

The only way to catch hypertension before it damages other organs of the body is to have regular blood pressure check-ups. Dr Trehan advises, “People must have medical check-ups done at least every three years and if there is any medical condition, the checkup duration must be done as suggested by the doctor.”

It is very important to catch hypertension as early as possible. This can help prevent risk of heart strokes and other damages to the body. The earlier it is diagnosed, the better are your chances of improvement, Dr Arora adds.

Lifestyle changes

 Limiting salt intake, exercising 30 minutes every day, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol use, eating fruits and vegetables are some of the lifestyle changes one can start with. A doctor’s intervention is a must in hypertension. Medications, diet changes and exercises are usually tailor made keeping in mind an individual’s condition and physical capabilities.
Salt is clearly a controversial ingredient in cooking. Dr Trehan explains, “One must not consume more than 2 grams of salt in a day for healthy living. But don’t resort to extreme measures by going salt free. Low salt intake can also lead to health issues.” He insists on adding 30 minutes of cardio exercises five times a week to stay in shape and maintain good health. “Cardio improves heart function and should be generously included in the workout routine.”

What not to do?

Do not look up for remedies online. “Every person has different needs and blindly following online remedies can prove fatal. One must never consume any blood pressure medication without consulting the doctor.”
Coming to the diet, Dr Trehan advises against the use of artificial supplements, especially the ones that gym goers are liberally including in their diet. “One must always have fresh, home cooked food. Nothing beats that!”

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