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Hypertension Basics

Sustainable Health

Here’s an alarming statistic. 33% of urban and 25% of rural Indians have hypertension or increased blood pressure. Of these, 42% (urban) and 25% (rural) respectively, are unaware of their hypertensive status [1]. Did you find those numbers shocking but interesting? Here are some more that may cause some of us to take this condition a little more seriously. [1]

  1. Hypertension is responsible for 57% of all stroke related deaths and 24% of all coronary heart disease related deaths in India.
  2. Hypertension is rated as one of the most important causes of premature deaths worldwide.
  3. Hypertension effects 20.6% of Indian men and 20.9% of Indian women.

Causes of hypertension [2] include the following

  • Kidney disease and long term kidney infections among other kidney related issues
  • Diabetes
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea
  • Hormone issues, including hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism among others

Factors that put you at risk [2] include the following

  • Age – increasing age increases the risk of developing high blood pressure
  • African or Caribbean origins
  • Family history of hypertension
  • Lack of physical activity / exercise
  • Obesity and overweight
  • Regular consumption of large amounts of alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Long term sleep deprivation

What do the numbers in your blood pressure reading mean? [3] That’s simple on the face of it, though the underlying causes aren’t. All values are in mm/Hg, which looks complex, but all it refers to is, how high (in millimetres) has the Mercury (Hg) climbed up the glass tube.

  • The first number is called Systolic and the second, Diastolic. Together they look something like, “120/80 mm/Hg”, which means Systolic pressure is 120 mm/Hg and Diastolic pressure is 80 mm/Hg.
  • Systolic or the first number refers to the pressure exerted by blood, against your artery walls, when the heart beats. This number is considered more significant for people over 50 years of age.
  • Diastolic or the second number refers to the pressure exerted by blood, against your artery walls, when the heart is resting between beats. 

Interpreting a blood pressure reading is easy. Just refer to the chart [3] below to get an instant idea of what your blood pressure reading implies.  Low blood pressure is a subject for another article, for which there is no set range, as long as the symptoms of low blood pressure aren’t present. [6]

  • NORMAL: Less than 120 and less than 80
  • ELEVATED: Between 120 and 129 and less than 80
  • HIGH Stage 1: Between 130 and 139 and between 80 to 89
  • HIGH Stage 2: Higher than 140 and higher than 90
  • CRISIS (Go to the Emergency Room right away): Higher than 180 and/or higher than 120.

Hypertension causes damage to our circulatory systems, that damage being a significant contributing factor to heart attacks and strokes among other serious issues. [7]

Outside of medicine, which should be your first stop to get the symptoms under control, there are things you can try. All of us have unique points in our physical and mental make up, and what works for one may not work for another. It’s all worth a try nonetheless as none have adverse side-effects.

  1. Reduce stress from your life. There are stress factors that we’re aware of (driving during rush hour, for example) and unknown stress factors that we may not be aware of (daughter’s career prospects, even though she’s doing well in studies). Both need to be acknowledged and managed.
  2. Eat well. Reduce saturated fats, sodium, refined carbs and excess non-vegetarian food from your diet. Some diet modifications directly affect your blood pressure (such as Sodium) while others reduce the risk of related conditions such as cardiovascular heart disease.
  3. Exercise. Just 30 minutes of brisk walking per day will help your blood pressure levels. [4]
  4. Supplements. There is some research that indicates the consumption of Coenzyme Q10 can help hypertensive individuals by consuming ~120mg daily. Effects are said to start after about 10 weeks of consumption. [5]

And I hope that helps with your journey towards better health. If there’s anything I’ve left out, please do let me know by leaving a comment below. 

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4011565/
  2. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/high-blood-pressure-hypertension/causes/
  3. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/understanding-blood-pressure-readings
  4. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/PhysicalActivity/Walking/Why-Walking_UCM_461770_Article.jsp#.XBelRRgza00
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17287847
  6. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/the-facts-about-high-blood-pressure/low-blood-pressure-when-blood-pressure-is-too-low
  7. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/high-blood-pressure/the-facts-about-high-blood-pressure

The link for Coenzyme Q10 leads to Amazon and if you buy from there, a few rupees are directed my way at no cost to you. This helps me spend time on tracking research and writing freely available articles like this one.

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3 Responses

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