High blood pressure is a term that is used to acknowledge that a person’s blood pressure is above what is considered normal. High blood pressure is also called hypertension. Measuring somebody’s blood pressure gives us an indication of how effectively their heart is working to pump blood around their body. If their heart has to work very hard to pump blood around their body, then their blood pressure will be high.
Blood pressure is composed of two measurements: the first recording is called the systolic pressure and it measures the force the heart must pump to get blood to flow around the body. It can indicate how flexible or stiff the blood vessels are. The second recording is called diastolic pressure. This measures the resting pressure when the heart relaxes between heartbeats. It is recorded while the blood pressure cuff is deflating.
The American Heart Association considers a normal blood pressure to be 120/80 mm Hg. Ideally, everybody’s blood pressure should be below 140/90 mm Hg. If the first number is above 140 or the second number is above 90 then a person is said to have high blood pressure. It is called Pre- hypertension which shows the level of BP between 120/80 mm Hg and 139/89 mm Hg.
Being aware and seeking medical intervention on time is the key to combating hypertension. Regular monitoring of blood pressure, especially by those who are at an increased risk is mandatory. In case of experiencing any of the symptoms, one must consult the doctor immediately. Even though there are restrictions on movement and doctor visits amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, patients should seek teleconsultation for discussing symptoms with their doctors for timely management and treatment.
Sedentary lifestyles coupled with stress have led to a significant increase in hypertension over time. This has been further fuelled during the ongoing pandemic where people may be adopting a casual approach towards health while being at home. Home confinement can also lead to psycho-social issues which can cause hypertension. There can be increased stress owing to various factors such as work-life balance, mental health and wellness. These coupled with a lack of regular physical activity can increase the risk of high blood pressure. Therefore, it is very important to be aware of the symptoms of hypertension and seek medical help on time.
Symptoms include severe headaches, fatigue, confusion, vision problems, chest pain, breathing difficulty, irregular heartbeats or even blood in the urine. Hypertension is often known as the ‘silent killer’ because most of the symptoms do not manifest themselves significantly.
Hypertension can be caused by both modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors. The modifiable ones include consumption of tobacco and alcohol, obesity, consumption of unhealthy diets, intake of excessive sodium, obesity, lack of physical activity and stress while the non-modifiable risk factors include age, family history of the disease and other medical conditions like diabetes, kidney disease or cardiovascular disease.
Hypertension can lead to fatalities such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, dementia or narrowed blood vessels in the kidneys.
Healthy changes in diet can help to control blood pressure numbers. Diet plays an important role in managing healthy blood pressure. Adding certain foods and nutrients result in controlled blood pressure. Vegetable juices are a powerhouse of nutrients. You can juice a few vegetables or create a combination of different vegetables for maximum benefits. Potassium is well known as an important nutrient to control high blood pressure. This micronutrient helps in negating the effect of sodium in the body. It also has a positive impact on blood vessels, which results in controlled blood pressure. Potassium-rich foods include banana and pineapples. They can also help in controlling anxiety and stress. Low salt or low sodium intake is also advised
Lifestyle modifications through the following:
Consume a healthy and well-balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables
Reduce or limit the intake of sodium
Avoid smoking and consumption of alcohol
Engage in regular physical activity or exercise.
Keep your weight in control
Limit the intake of caffeine
If making lifestyle changes is not enough to control your blood pressure, the doctor will likely prescribe blood pressure medication. There are many blood pressure medications which include diuretics, B blockers Alpha-adrenergic blockers, Methyldopa. Combining two drugs usually works better than a single drug to get your blood pressure under control. Sometimes additional medication is needed to achieve your blood pressure goal.
In conclusion, High blood pressure or hypertension can increase the risk of heart diseases if left uncontrolled. High blood pressure can be a result of poor diet, lifestyle, increased stress and much more.