High blood pressure or hypertension is a health condition that affects many people across the world. It can impact your heart and cause several cardiovascular problems. If your blood pressure levels reach 180/120 mm Hg, it is considered hypertensive. One needs to take care of their diet and exercise regularly to prevent this health risk factor. Onlymyhealth editorial team spoke to Dr. Srinivasa Prasad B V, Consultant - Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Hospital, Bangalore, about the FAQs about hypertension or high blood pressure.
1. What is Hypertension and why is BP control necessary?
Hypertension develops when one’s blood pressure is consistently higher than recommended levels and is dangerous as it puts an excessive amount of strain on the heart and contributes to atherosclerosis (artery hardening).
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Blood pressure (BP) control is an essential body function without which oxygen and nutrients would not reach the tissues and organs, resulting in the non-distribution of white blood cells throughout the body. It also aids in transporting toxic waste from our bodies to the liver and kidneys. It isn't always diagnosed by a single high reading and fluctuates throughout the day. If the BP remains high for three consecutive readings, on three separate occasions, for at least three months, one has hypertension.
2. How is BP measured? Is home monitoring viable?
To measure BP, a blood pressure monitor, which uses a cuff (thick band) to wrap around the arms to monitor the arterial pressure, is used. The cuff tightens and then slowly loosens once turned on, post which it gives a proper reading. It's simple and painless.
The millimeters of mercury are used as measure readings and are expressed as a figure such as 120/75, the top number is the pressure (systolic pressure) while the bottom number displaying heart relaxations (diastolic pressure).
- Sit back for 5 minutes before measuring.
- Avoid smoking or drinking caffeinated drinks 30 minutes prior.
3. Are some people more susceptible to high BP than others?
Regrettably, yes. Some factors that contribute to a higher risk of hypertension, such as age, race, gender, etc cannot be controlled. Blood pressure rises with age, especially in men, who are more likely to develop high blood pressure after the age of 45, whereas women are more likely after the age of 65. People with a family history of hypertension are at an increased risk of developing high blood pressure.
4. How to maintain a normal BP level?
Because it usually causes no symptoms, high blood pressure is known as the "silent killer." Making the lifestyle changes that your healthcare provider suggests is part of the treatment.
The following can help maintain a healthy blood pressure level:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Consume a healthy diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products (DASH diet).
- Reduce sodium intake.
- Regular aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, running, or swimming, 90-150 minutes/week.
- Limit alcohol consumption.
- Reduce stress and relax yourself
5. How is Hypertension linked to heart problems?
High BP damages the arteries by making them less elastic, reducing blood and oxygen flow to your heart, and causing heart disease. High BP contributes to the development of cardiovascular disease majorly.
Furthermore, decreased blood flow to the heart can result in:
- Angina (chest pain).
- High BP damages and blocks arteries, preventing blood flow to the heart muscle, resulting in a heart attack.
- A transient ischemic attack or Stroke — High BP can make it easier for blood vessels in the brain to clog or burst.
- It can cause the heart to enlarge and fail to supply blood to the body, resulting in heart failure.
- It can also result in aneurysms, kidney disease, and broken blood vessels in the eyes if not treated.
6. When to Seek Medical Help?
It's critical to consult with your physician at the earliest if:
- One is not responding to the prescribed treatment and their BP remains high.
- One experiences any side effects from the BP medication, the doctor might want to adjust or switch the dosage.
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