It is a silent killer that puts you perpetually at risk of suffering a stroke
If you are suffering from high blood pressure and prefer to go untreated, you are simply playing with your life. It is a common disease but carelessness can take a life. Gone are the days when ignorance was considered to be a bliss. In case of hypertension this bliss could prove deadly if untreated over a prolonged period. The reason: it can damage the blood vessels in the brain and cause a stroke as per health experts. What amplifies the problem of hypertension is the fact that it often goes unnoticed as it attacks the body surreptitiously, without showing up symptoms of its own.
Its prevalence in India is widespread. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Hypertension, about one-third of India’s urban population and one-fourth of the rural population are hypertensive.
“High blood pressure can cause blood clots to form in the arteries leading to your brain, blocking blood flow and leading to lack of oxygen supply to the brain cells and tissues, potentially causing a stroke,” said Tapan Ghose, Director of Cardiology at Fortis Hospital located in Vasant Kunj of New Delhi.
High blood pressure damages arteries throughout the body, creating conditions where they can burst or clog more easily. Weakened arteries in the brain, resulting from high blood pressure, put people at a much higher risk of stroke, according to the American Heart Association.
There are primarily two types of strokes -- “ischemic stroke” which can happen due to a reduction in blood supply to the brain, and “hemorrhagic stroke” that is due to bleeding in the brain. But early detection of blood pressure and its management may reduce its complications and risk of death. Some symptoms for early detection of high blood pressure include headache, chest discomfort, palpitations, shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, nosebleeds and feeling numb or weak.
Gunjan Kapoor, Director, Interventional Cardiology Department of NOIDA-based Jaypee Hospital, said: “High blood pressure is responsible for almost half the ischemic strokes that are also called brain attacks, akin to a heart attack. It also increases the chances of hemorrhagic strokes.” “It is one of the leading causes for stroke that contributes over 50 per cent in blockages (ischemic stroke) and leads to bleeding in the brain,” Vipul Gupta, Director, Artemis Hospital, Gurgaon, added.
The exact causes of high blood pressure are not known, but several factors and conditions may play a role in its development, such as smoking, lack of physical activity, too much salt in the diet, consumption of alcohol, stress, and genetic family history of high blood pressure.
“Being overweight can also put you at risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and Type-2 diabetes, all of which increase your risk of a stroke,” said J.D. Mukherji, Senior Director - Neurology, Max Super Specialty Hospital in Saket, New Delhi. Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, cutting down on full-fat milk, cream and cheese, as well as fatty meat and takeaways may also help control hypertension. Rachit Dua, a Delhi-based fitness coach and nutritionist, opined: “Exercise also plays an imperative role to strengthen your cardiovascular health. It reduces hypertension and other heart-related issues to a great extent, but it should always be done under a certified fitness professional.”
“The best way to control high blood pressure is to diagnose it. Once diagnosed, the doctor may prescribe medicine, drugs, diet and exercise to help keep the blood pressure in control. Making certain lifestyle changes can keep a check on your hypertension. Avoid a sedentary lifestyle, quit smoking and limit alcohol,” Anil Kansal, Neurosurgeon, BLK Super Specialty Hospital, New Delhi, suggested.
Primary hypertension is predominantly associated with a positive family history of hypertension, obesity, and life-style factors. And among the pediatric population it could be due to the well-established childhood obesity epidemic.
Identifying children with hypertension and successfully treating it should have an important impact on long-term outcomes of heart diseases.
One of the most important components of the successful management of childhood hypertension is determining whether or not there is an underlying cause that is amenable to treatment.
There are increasing evidences that adult hypertension has its antecedents during childhood, as childhood blood pressure (BP) predicts adult BP.
Children with hypertension are largely susceptible to cardiovascular risk factors. Although death and cardiovascular disability do not occur in hypertensive children, organ damage, such as left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), thickening of the carotid vessel wall, retinal vascular changes, and even subtle cognitive changes are detectable in children and adolescents with high BP.
Left ventricular hypertrophy occurs commonly in children and adolescents with high BP.
Among children and adolescents with primary hypertension, the presence of obesity could be associated with marked LVH. Carotid artery intimal medial thickness (CIMT), assessed by ultrasound, has been found to be greater in young adults who had had multiple risk factors since childhood.
For these reasons, referral for more specialised evaluation should be considered. Secondary hypertension (high BP caused by another medical condition) should, in particular, be suspected if patients do not respond to the initial treatment recommendations for younger patients.
This condition also increases your risk of developing the known complications of high blood pressure -- namely heart disease and stroke. For both clinical and public health benefit, identification, examination, and treatment of children with high risk BP is an important step in reducing the excessive burden of cardiovascular disease.
Teenagers who know they have prehypertension or even high blood pressure can most likely avoid needing to take medication and developing complications of high blood pressure if they make some changes to their diet and lifestyle.
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