Measure your blood pressure accurately, control it, live longer?

Dr Sushil Kumar Sharma
World Hypertension day is celebrated annually on the 17th May. The main aim of the day is to educate the public and increase awareness of hypertension, which is also commonly known as high blood pressure. The expanded theme for World Hypertension Day is Measure Your Blood Pressure, Control It, Live Longer, with a goal of increasing high blood pressure (BP) awareness in all populations around the world and focusing on combating low awareness rates worldwide, especially in low to middle income areas, and accurate blood pressure measurement methods.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death worldwide, and high blood pressure (hypertension) is responsible for more than 33% of CVD deaths. Unfortunately more than a quarter of adult women and four in ten adult men have hypertension, and diagnosis, treatment, and control are suboptimal. Only a few countries show a population hypertension control rate of more than 50%.
Symptoms of Hypertension
Hypertension is generally a silent condition. Many people won’t experience any symptoms. It may take years or even decades for the condition to reach levels severe enough that symptoms become obvious. Even then, these symptoms may be attributed to other issues.
Symptoms of severe hypertension can include:
* Headaches
* Shortness of breath
* Epistaxis
* Flushing
* Dizziness
* Chest pain
* Loss in Vision
Prevention of high blood pressure
Healthy lifestyle changes can help you control the factors that cause hypertension. Here are some of the most common home remedies.
Developing a healthy diet- A heart-healthy diet is vital for helping to reduce high blood pressure. It’s also important for managing hypertension that is under control and reducing the risk of complications. These complications include heart disease, stroke, and heart attack.
A heart-healthy diet emphasizes foods that include:
* fruits
* vegetables
* whole grains
* lean proteins like fish
Increasing physical activity – Reaching a healthy weight should include being more physically active. In addition to helping you shed pounds, exercise can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure naturally, and strengthen your cardiovascular system.
Aim to get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. That’s about 30 minutes five times per week.
* Maintaining healthy weight – If you are overweight or obese, losing weight through a heart-healthy diet and increased physical activity can help lower your blood pressure.
* Managing stress – Exercise is a great way to manage stress. Other activities can also be helpful. These include:
* Meditation
* Deep breathing
* Massage
* Muscle relaxation
* Yoga or tai chi
These are all proven stress-reducing techniques. Getting adequate sleep can also help reduce stress levels.
*Adopting a cleaner lifestyle – If you’re a smoker, try to quit. The chemicals in tobacco smoke damage the body’s tissues and harden blood vessel walls.
If you regularly consume too much alcohol or have an alcohol dependency, seek help to reduce the amount you drink or stop altogether. Alcohol can raise blood pressure.
Key Message
* Proper management can control hypertension and prevent its complications.
* Effective lifestyle and drug treatments are available that could control hypertension in most individuals. Newer drugs provide better control while avoiding the side effects that have limited therapy in the past.
* A close collaboration between the physician and patient is needed to optimize better health outcome.
Preventive strategies in hypertension should follow the principle of continuum of care. While improving awareness is essential, it is paramount to couple these efforts with better quality of treatment, which eventually results in the desired effect of better BP control. Only 24.9 and 37.6 per cent of those diagnosed to have hypertension in rural and urban areas, respectively, were on treatment. It is also rather unfortunate that only one-tenth of the rural and one-fifth of the urban hypertensive population had their BP under control. Initiation of any screening programme should be coupled with strengthening of the existing infrastructure to cater the large number of newly diagnosed hypertensive added to the system as a consequence of improved screening. Trained workforce, provision of good quality drugs, built-in referral systems and availability of necessary investigations for confirmation and evaluation have to be put in place. Screening has to be accompanied with treatment that is available, affordable and accessible, and also of good quality. Efforts to improve quality of care should include capacity building of health professionals to reduce therapeutic inertia as well as better follow up to ensure improved adherence.
The importance and purpose of this day is to communicate to the public the importance of hypertension and its serious medical complications, and to provide information on its prevention, detection, and management. To do this requires cooperation of health care professionals, media, volunteer organizations and Government in each country.
(The author is Head Department of Cardiology SSH Jammu)