Hypertension or high blood pressure is described as the number one killer disease in the world. It occurs when the pressure of blood pushing against a person’s arteries is higher than normal. Hypertension can lead to several health concerns. It can cause multiple life-threatening problems slowly without the knowledge of a person and either kills or impairs the quality of life in later stages.
Hypertension, heart disease, and stroke are three different conditions. But if you have hypertension, the risk of developing heart disease or stroke also increases. If the blockage occurs near the brain or heart, it can lead to either a stroke or heart attack, respectively.
How to identify if you have high blood pressure?
Often termed as a silent disease, hypertension may or may not show any signs or symptoms. People usually don't know that they have it. Hence, it is important for all adults above18 years or older to regularly monitor their blood pressure, especially if it has ever been high or above the "normal" range, or if you have a family history of hypertension.
A blood pressure reading of 120/80 mmHg or below is considered normal and a reading of more than or equal to 130/80 mmHg is considered hypertension.
Hypertension and heart diseases
Over time, hypertension can cause damage to the blood vessels and LDL (bad) cholesterol to accumulate in the wall of the arteries. It can cause the arteries to narrow which can limit the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart muscle. This can lead to ischemic heart disease and ultimately heart attack. This is a serious medical condition. If left untreated, people can die from ischemic heart disease.
Hypertension can put pressure on your heart and force the heart to work hard to pump blood. This can lead to the thickening of the heart muscle and make the heart less elastic. All these changes to the arteries and heart can reduce the blood flow and lead to problems such as coronary artery disease, heart attack and heart failure.
Hypertension and stroke
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 7 in 10 people who experience a first heart attack and 8 in 10 people who experience a first stroke also have high blood pressure. Stroke is a medical emergency and it is the leading cause of disability and one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide. When the arteries leading to the brain burst or become blocked, it can cause a stroke. In this state, the brain no longer receives oxygen-rich blood, it can cause brain cells and the arteries to die. A stroke occurs due to the damaging effects of hypertension on the arteries. It can cause Ischemic and Hemorrhagic stroke.
Lowering hypertension for the prevention of heart diseases and stroke
Preventing hypertension can lower the risk of heart disease and stroke. One can keep the blood pressure in a healthy range by following a healthy lifestyle. One can follow the tips below to prevent hypertension.
- Eat healthily. Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet. Follow the DASH diet, a flexible and balanced eating plan that helps create a heart-healthy eating style for life.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of hypertension
- Be physically active. One can do moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking or bicycling
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. Smoking can increase the risk of hypertension and can cause heart attack and stroke. Also, consuming an excessive amount of alcohol can lead to hypertension.
- Take good rest and adequate amount of sleep. Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis is associated with an increased risk of hypertension, heart disease and stroke.
Authored by Dr. Pradeep Kumar D, Sr. Consultant - Interventional Cardiology, Aster CMI Hospital