Do I have high blood pressure?

Latest research has shown that while the global average for BP has reduced, the BP level of men and women in India has actually gone up. Could you be suffering from high BP and not be aware of it?

What is hypertension?

High blood pressure or hypertension is a condition in which the blood flow entering the arteries intensifies due to pressure. Hypertension is often called a silent killer because it arises silently with hardly any symptoms. It’s measured using millimetres of mercury or mmHg and is recorded via 2 numbers, where the top one indicates a person’s systolic pressure (when heart contracts) while the bottom number indicates a person’s diastolic pressure (when heart expands or rests in mid of each heartbeat).  Anything above 120/80 mmHg, is considered as high blood pressure.

Normally, the heart performs dual roles – it functions as both an electrical and a mechanical pump that not only supplies vital materials like oxygen, water, nutrients and hormones to different organs but also filters impure blood coming from different body parts.

In a person affected by hypertension, more pressure gets laid onto the heart as a result of which it has to work harder to accomplish its every day task.  A heart, in high blood pressure condition, accommodates more and applies additional force for carrying out its daily tasks. For constant efficiency, a hypertensive heart continuously exerts itself by pumping more blood within the system.  This increase in work load creates problems like weakening and enlargement of the heart. It can even cause various cardiovascular diseases like stroke (when veins of blood get blocked in the brain), heart attack (when arteries of blood get blocked in heart) and transient ischaemic attack. Hypertension can even cause eye diseases, kidney failures, atherosclerosis and sudden death.

In a hypertensive heart, blood vessels become inflexibly stretched, thereby becoming susceptible to ruptures. As a result, there can be a decrease in the amount of blood flow to various important organs. Millions of people across the globe suffer from this common disorder. It is not particular to any age bracket, so anybody and everybody can be affected.  Some people with this condition complain of blurry vision, fatigue and headache. But in majority of the cases, it doesn’t cause any serious symptoms. So, it’s always better to get oneself checked.

Causes of High blood pressure

  • Obesity
  • High sodium intake
  • Lack of exercise
  • Excessive intake of alcohol on a regular basis
  • Family history or heredity
  • Stress
  • Diabetes

People with this disease must consult a doctor as only after a detailed examination is it possible to suggest a form of treatment. A doctor might conduct an ECG (electrocardiogram test), urine test or a blood test to check the presence and level of sugar and protein in one’s system. If complications aren’t found, then he or she might prescribe over-the-counter medicines, along with healthier diet and weight loss.

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