Hypertension a silent killer, lifestyle modification key to manage: Experts

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a chronic medical condition characterised by elevated blood pressure in the arteries.

New Delhi: Hypertension or high blood pressure (BP) is a silent killer as it usually does not cause noticeable symptoms, yet a major reason behind a host of conditions that can also turn fatal, said health experts stressing on the need for making lifestyle modification to manage the condition.

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a chronic medical condition characterised by elevated blood pressure in the arteries. Blood pressure is a measure of the force exerted by the blood against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps it throughout the body. It is usually expressed as two values: systolic pressure over diastolic pressure (e.g., 120/80 mmHg).

“The brain continuously depends on nourishment from blood supply to it to work properly. Hypertension can quietly damage our arteries (blood vessels) for years before a person develops symptoms,” Dr Manish Chhabria, Consultant Neurologist at Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai, told IANS.

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“Hypertension is a common health problem worldwide and often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ because it usually does not cause noticeable symptoms. However, if left uncontrolled or untreated, hypertension can lead to serious complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, and other health issues,” added Dr Shuchin Bajaj, Founder & Director Ujala Cygnus group of Hospitals.

There are two main types of hypertension. Primary or essential hypertension is the most common type of hypertension, accounting for about 90-95 per cent of cases. The exact cause is unknown, but it is believed to develop gradually over time due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors, including lifestyle habits such as poor diet, lack of exercise, obesity, smoking, and stress.

Secondary type of hypertension is caused by an underlying health condition or medication. It usually appears suddenly and causes higher blood pressure levels than primary hypertension. Underlying causes can include kidney disease, hormonal disorders, certain medications (e.g., oral contraceptives, decongestants), sleep apnea, and alcohol abuse.

According to Dr. Ashutosh Shukla, Senior Director and medical advisor, Max Hospital, Gurugram, the prevalence of lifestyle diseases such as high blood pressure has significantly increased in the post-Covid pandemic era.

“In urban cities like Delhi-NCR, one out of every four adults is suffering from high blood pressure, and even young people are being diagnosed with this condition,” he said

“Stress can be a significant factor in raising blood pressure levels in our bodies,” said Dr Rajeev Gupta, Director, Internal Medicine, C.K. Birla Hospital, Delhi.

“When we encounter stress, our body responds by releasing hormones that constrict our blood vessels, which can increase blood pressure. Over time if not managed, chronic stress can cause damage to our blood vessels, leading to hypertension and other health-related conditions. Therefore, it is essential to manage stress levels to keep blood pressure in check,” Gupta told IANS.

Managing hypertension often involves a combination of lifestyle modifications, the doctors said.

To avoid becoming a patient with high blood pressure, it is recommended to eat a healthy diet and avoid food items with excessive salt, while also maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding tobacco and secondhand smoke, getting 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, cutting down stress, and practising meditation and yoga regularly can be beneficial.

Regular checkups with a physician to monitor blood pressure levels are also important since high blood pressure can be subtle and asymptomatic in its early stages.

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