Hypertension – A Whole New Pressure
Hypertension is a slow and insidious disease. It is triggered by the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls. When your arteries narrow or harden, your heart has to work harder to pump blood to your body, leading to all sorts of heart problems and even kidney failure. But because all this happen internally, studies have shown that nearly half of those who have hypertension don’t know it.
There are 2 types of hypertension:
- Primary Hypertension – Over 90% of all hypertensives fall into the primary category. The exact cause of primary hypertension isn’t known but the contributing factors include obesity, lack of exercise, daily diet, heredity, sex, race, age, negative habits like smoking and even personality.
- Secondary Hypertension – Secondary hypertension may be linked to kidney disease, endocrine disorders, the use of oral contraceptives and excessive use of alcohol.
Your chance of getting hypertension or pre-hypertension increases gradually once you hit 18.
Anyone with a systolic blood pressure reading of 120 or over, or a diastolic blood pressure reading of 80 or over, now has pre-hypertension, which means they’re at increased risk of heart disease and stroke. It is an emerging epidemic, a much dreaded danger zone, where you should tread carefully or bear the consequences.
As Sheldon Sheps, medical editor of MayoClinic.com’s High Blood Pressure Center said, “starting as low as 115/75, the risk of heart attack and stroke doubles for every 20-point jump in systolic blood pressure or every 10-point rise in diastolic blood pressure.” All hope is not lost yet, however, since lifestyle changes made while you’re in the pre-hypertension category can still make a difference.
- Crushing chest pain
- Ear noise or buzzing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Blood in urine
- Vision changes
How To Fight Hypertension
Prevention is the name of the game, especially for pre-hypertensives.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Losing even 20 pounds can lower blood pressure by 5-20mmHg, and its effects are greatest for those who are overweight. This means following a healthy eating pattern and staying physically active.
- The DASH diet. Dubbed as a holy grail by many qualified physicians. It has been found to be as effective in reducing blood pressure by up to 14mmHg. Unlike the Atkins or South Beach diet, DASH is a more sensible diet high in potassium and calcium and low in total saturated fats. Despite its obvious benefits, however, this diet is very much an individual thing and in order to ensure a lifelong commitment, dietary advice should be tailored according to each individual.
- Keep salt intake low. Keeping salt intake low at less than 1 1/4 teaspoon daily may reduce systolic blood pressure by up to 8mmHg.
- Use less oil or sugar, cook with margarine instead of butter.
- Cut down on fatty foods, especially carbohydrates.
- Limit alcohol intake. No more than one glass a day.
- Quit smoking!!!
- Brisk walk for 30-60 minutes three times weekly. This has also been shown to lower systolic blood pressure by 4-9mmHg.
Pregnant women with hypertension should be careful as high blood pressure can pose a threat to both the mother and the fetus. If not treated properly, it can harm the mother’s kidneys and other organs, and it can cause low birth weight and early delivery. Some women, on the other hand, develop high blood pressure while they are pregnant. Taking steps to control your blood pressure before and during pregnancy, as well as getting prenatal care, go a long way toward ensuring your well being and your baby’s health.