A staggering 139 million people in India suffer from uncontrolled hypertension, and that number is growing every year. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) report released in 2012, raised blood pressure in India increased from 5 per cent in 1960 to nearly 12 per cent in 1990. It further increased to 30 per cent in 2008 — a significant number of people afflicted were in their 20s. High blood pressure is responsible for 57 per cent of all stroke deaths and 24 per cent of all coronary heart disease deaths in India.
The reason the condition is termed as 'silent killer' is because more than 30% of people who have high blood pressure are not even aware of it. Most of the times, there are very minor symptoms or no symptoms at all. Some of the signs you must look out for are difficulty in breathing, chest pain or heaviness, headaches, irregular heartbeat (palpitation), problems in vision, problems in urination. These 'small' indicators may harbor some consequences as damage of arteries and vital organs of the body which may further lead to life-threatening medical emergencies. Therefore, we must not only identify and control hypertension but also promote a healthy lifestyle and preventive strategies to decrease the prevalence of hypertension in the general population.
What is most worrisome fact about hypertension is that it can affect any age group. Thought to be the disease of the elderly or the obese, now a days it is being more frequently diagnosed in the young. Hypertension can affect any organ of the body, be it the brain, the heart or the kidneys. Patients can complain of headaches, tiredness, anxiety, dizziness, weakness, confusion nausea, chest pain and even weakness in one side of the body.
Although hypertension can be genetic or secondary to a disease, most often the cause is poor life style choices like, lack of sleep, weight gain, lack of exercise, stress, long working hours, smoking, junk food, excessive alcohol intake etc. Often overlooked and sometimes ignored causes of hypertension include snoring, thyroid disorders, drugs and supplements. Over-the-counter nasal decongestants and certain herbal supplements, including ginseng, licorice and ephedra (ma-huang), weight loss pills may have the same effect on the blood pressure.
Treatment of hypertension is almost always with medicines but lifestyle modifications can prevent high blood pressure as well as keep the medicines to a minimum. Life style modifications not only include exercise and yoga rather adopting a healthy diet is the cornerstone for a healthy body.
Beware of the hidden salt and sugar and the read the food labels carefully. Make sure you pay close attention to the serving size. Following are the common sources of hidden sugar and salt in Indian diet:
1.Bread made with maida
2.Pizzas and Junk food
3.Sandwiches: Avoid the dressing and the sauces on the sandwich, that's what is derailing you diet
4.Heavy cream in gravy and soups
5.Salted snacks and namkeens
6.Biscuits: Read the label carefully. Devil lies in the detail
7.Fruit juices: Not healthy, whole lot of sugar
8.Salad dressings and sauces.
Senior Consultant & Head — Interventional Neurology, Max Super Speciality Hospital, Saket, New Delhi