We all have a tendency to wait till the symptoms until we have a reason to visit medical professionals. It’s a myth that all diseases will show their symptoms. We might not be right always.
There’s a common misconception that people with high blood pressure will experience symptoms such as nervousness, sweating, difficulty sleeping or facial flushing. But the truth is that high blood pressure also known as hypertension is largely a symptom-less condition. If you ignore your blood pressure because you think symptoms will alert, you are taking a dangerous risk with your life.
Do you know?
High blood pressure is ranked as the third most important risk factor for burden of disease in South Asia. Yes, it is direct cause for 57% of all stroke deaths and 24% of all coronary heart disease deaths in India.
The WHO rates hypertension as one of the most important causes of premature death worldwide. So, everybody needs to know their blood pressure numbers and prevent high blood pressure from developing at all.
Blood pressure reading usually looks like:
In your blood pressure reading, the upper number is systolic pressure (SBP), an indicator of blood pressure when the heart contracts. The lower number, the diastolic pressure (DBP), reflects pressure when your heart relaxes between beats.
High blood pressure – how high is high?
- As per American Heart Association and Joint National Committee guidelines, blood pressure should normally be less than 120/80 mmHg (less than 120 systolic AND less than 80 diastolic).
- If SBP is between 120-139 or your DBP is between 80-89 mmHg, then it is considered as prehypertension.
- SBP more than 139 or DBP more than 89 mmHg is considered as hypertension.
What is hypertensive crisis?
When blood pressure readings rise to dangerously high levels (SBP of 180 or higher OR DBP of 110 or higher), only then symptoms may occur. Blood pressure this high is known as Hypertensive Crisis and emergency medical treatment is needed.
In addition to extreme readings, a person in hypertensive crisis may experience severe headaches or anxiety, shortness of breath or nosebleeds.
About 33% urban and 25% rural Indians are hypertensive. Of these, 25% rural and 42% urban Indians are aware of their hypertensive status. Only 25% rural and 38% of urban Indians are being treated for hypertension. One-tenth of rural and one-fifth of urban Indian hypertensive population have their BP under control.
So, how to keep your blood pressure in control?
- Cut down extra weight. Being overweight can make you two to six times more likely to develop high blood pressure than if you are at your desirable weight
- Be physically active. People who are physically active have a lower risk of getting high blood pressure
- Use less salt. Cutting back on salt also prevents blood pressure from rising (read how much salt you should take)
- No alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure
- Don’t stress out. Stress can make blood pressure go up, and over time may contribute to the cause of high blood pressure
The key element of effective prevention and control of hypertension in our society is creating awareness.