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Keeping a silent disease in check

Hypertension or high blood pressure might be a common ailment, but is often ignored or undetected

Keeping a silent disease in check
Symptoms like nosebleed, fatigue, recurring headaches, and urine in the blood are some of the most common warning signs that a person is suffering from hypertension, in which case they should immediately get professional medical consultation.

By Dr Tarun Sahni

Hypertension is a silent disease. What are the warning signs of high BP?
While hypertension or high BP is a very common condition, it can’t be neglected under any circumstances. Generally caused when the blood pressure on the arteries is too high, high blood pressure doesn’t always have very noticeable symptoms. But the increased frequency puts a strain on the arteries, resulting in decreased heart health. Symptoms like nosebleed, fatigue, recurring headaches, and urine in the blood are some of the most common warning signs that a person is suffering from hypertension, in which case they should immediately get professional medical consultation.

At what age should people, irrespective of fitness, monitor BP?
The blood pressure of any individual varies depending on different factors like their daily tasks and activities. Although there are no such studies that direct a person to start monitoring their BP when they reach a certain age, it is recommended for people aged 18 years and over without any diagnosed heart problems, to check their BP at least once in two-five years, and for people of the age 40 and over, and people with increased risks of heart conditions to check their BP each year to keep a check on their health.

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Who is at risk?
Hypertension being a very common condition is not always restricted to people leading an unhealthy lifestyle. Sometimes, people with a very healthy routine might also attract this condition, hence it can be said that everyone is at risk when we talk about high BP. Blood pressure also tends to increase with age and is very common in men under the age of 65 years, while women usually develop high BP after they cross the age of 65. Habits like eating too much salt, overconsumption of alcohol, obesity, etc, can also expose a person to hypertension. Inherited genes from parents suffering from hypertension are likely to result in their child inheriting this condition.

What are the harmful effects of hypertension over the long term on the body and its organs?
Usually curable and controllable with medicines and lifestyle changes, recurring high BP can do severe damage to a person’s body if neglected or left undetected. Although other organs in the human body might not experience any of the severity, the core part of our body— the heart—is the one that experiences most of the tolls caused due to hypertension. High BP results in weakened arteries, which can block or prevent blood to pump through and hence resulting in heart attacks. It might also affect the functioning of the patient’s kidneys.

Can a healthy lifestyle prevent BP?
The answer is yes, high BP can be prevented if a certain balanced lifestyle is followed. Healthy lifestyle usually consists of eating nutritious food, exercising regularly, having a maintained sleep schedule, etc. Consuming a controlled amount of alcohol and not smoking are some of the ways one can prevent going through several tests just to determine the state of their body.

Can hypertension be reversed with lifestyle changes?
Reversing a disease that has already done damage is always a tough goal to achieve. While some severe issues that are caused due to high BP are usually very hard to reverse back to normal, waiting for the condition to get severe is also not an option and it’s never too late to start living healthy. Therefore, adopting a healthy lifestyle should be the priority of a person suffering from high BP. Daily exercise and meditation are highly recommended to add to the daily routine of a person suffering from hypertension.

Dr Tarun Sahni is senior consultant, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi

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