By Dr. Kayan Siodia
When we hear the term ‘Gen Z’, it generally is synonymous to terms like millennial, instant information savvy and well versed with trends ongoing both nationally and globally. However, in the last few years, there has been a surge in cases of hypertension among Gen Z or teenagers. This marks an early onset of cardiovascular abnormalities such asii left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) and atherosclerosis.
Most people think of high blood pressure aka as “hypertension”, as a condition that affects older people. However, if not taken due care, contrary to popular beliefs, high blood pressure can actually affect people of all ages — including teenagers and millennials. Without timely diagnosis, treatment, and intervention uncontrolled hypertension can lead to disastrous health issues which include but is not limited to stroke, heart, vision issues, and kidney failure.
Why are the cases among teenagers increasing?
Since the pandemic has begun, there has been a lot of uncertainty with the lockdowns and restrictions. Children and teenagers have also been facing uncertain times with lot of entrance exams, annual Board exams and National exams have been cancelled or postponed. For lot of students, the exams and tutorials were important for a great aspiring career. Now with the lockdown and exams cancelled, lot of teenagers and students were undergoing immense stress, thus leading to hypertension. Moreover, lack of physical activity among teenagers during lockdown and unhealthy food habits have added to hypertension cases among the younger individuals.
How do you identify if your teenager is suffering from high blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the force of blood as it flows through the body’s vessels. Under normal circumstances, the heart pumps blood through the vessels all over the body. The vessels widen and contract as needed to keep blood flowing well. In a person with hypertension, however, the blood pushes too hard against the blood vessels, which can cause damage to blood vessels, the heart, and other organs.
It’s easy for adults to understand if they are suffering from high blood pressure simply by having blood pressure checks and comparing the numbers to a simple chart. They go through frequent checkups unlike young individuals and even indolent asymptomatic hypertensives can also be diagnosed in early stages. High blood pressure in younger children is often related to other health conditions, such as heart defects, kidney disease, genetic conditions or hormonal disorders. Older children — especially those who are overweight — are more likely to have primary hypertension. The prognosis is made using charts based on the child’s sex, height, and blood pressure numbers to determine whether or not the child has high blood pressure.
A majority of the patients with hypertension in India are unaware of their condition. This is because of lack of awareness and the lack of screening for hypertension. Change in lifestyle like intake of high levels of salt intake, alcohol and tobacco consumption are an inciting factor. The larger proportion of population including both adults and kids suffering from hypertension are unaware of their diagnosis… Those who are identified as hypertensive often receive inappropriate care or fail to adhere to therapy, and remain uncontrolled.
High blood pressure among youngsters can result in serious, long term health effects which includes heart diseases, kidney diseases and stroke. vObesity is also a major risk factor and if the family has a history of high blood pressure then that also contributes as a risk factor. Other risk factors may include medical problems such as hormonal abnormalities, narrowing of the aorta, sleep apnea or other sleep disorders.
Treatment of high blood pressure among youngsters
The medical fraternity all over the world is researching new ways that can be used in the most effective way to treat high blood pressure in teenagers. It is important to adhere to the medical treatment option suggested by the doctor in order to ensure that the best treatment plan works in the best way for the patient. Simple measures such as resorting to right nutritious diet, with good intake of proteins and vitamins alongside added intake of fruits and vegetables in raw form should be included.
Monitoring the person’s weight over a given period of time until the blood pressure becomes normal is mandatory. Including physical exercises, yoga, and meditation and spending less time on screen.
Young population of India is the future and backbone of the country. A healthy young population leads to overall economic development. The most important thing is taking timely precautions and medications and following up with the doctor in order to see the best results. Usually, it takes time to find the right combinations drugs that will help control and bring down the blood pressure. By working closely with the doctor, one can help in developing a comprehensive health plan which will help to control the blood pressure, lower the hypertension level and enjoy a healthier life ahead.
(The author is a Consultant at Interventional Cardiology, P. D. Hinduja Hospital and Medical Research Centre, Khar. The article is for informational purposes only. Please consult medical experts and health professionals before starting any therapy, medication and/or remedy. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)