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High Blood Pressure Is A Silent Killer

High blood pressure can go undetected for years & escalate to fatal proportions

Hypertension is another name for high blood pressure (HBP). Blood pressure refers to the force with which the blood flows against the walls of the arteries. This pressure depends on how much effort your heart exerts and the resistance of the blood vessels. Normal blood pressure is 130/80 mm of mercury, the first (systolic) number representing the force of your heartbeat, and the second (diastolic) the time it takes for the heart to fill with blood before it pumps it out again. Hypertension occurs when your pressure is higher than 140/80 according to guidelines issued by the Ceylon College of Physicians.

 

What causes high blood pressure?

While high blood pressure is caused by stress, aging and the stiffening of blood vessels, it can also happen for no obvious reason. Underlying conditions such as kidney disease and hormonal imbalances (adrenal and thyroid) are also causes.

 

 

What are the complications of high blood pressure?

Poorly-controlled hypertension can lead to heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and vision problems. Often, there are no symptoms until the patient develops complications. For this reason, regular pressure checks are essential. If hypertension is allowed to go undetected at the early stage (asymptomatic phase), it may worsen causing serious irreversible complications with dire consequences or even premature death.

 

How do we manage blood pressure correctly?

A healthy diet and regular exercise are your first line of action towards regulating your blood pressure. There are many other lifestyle adjustments you can make before resorting to medication: for example, dietary and lifestyle changes such as:

  • restricting salt intake by reducing the amount of salt added while cooking, avoiding adding salt while eating, and reducing consumption of heavily-salted food such as dried fish, canned food, french fries and chips;

  • increasing the amount of vegetables consumed to 3-5 portions a day;

  • limiting the consumption of processed foods and processed meats;

  • reducing the amount of fried foods and sweets and confectionaries;

  • consuming liquor in moderation (2 units a day for men, and 1 unit a day for women). Better still, give it up altogether.

  • avoiding smoking and recreational drugs because they cause and exacerbate HBP and its complications;

When these lifestyle changes are found to be inadequate, your doctor may start you on a tailored low dose of one anti-hypertensive drug.

 

What are the side effects of anti-hypertensive drugs?

The side effects associated with anti-hypertensive drugs are usually minor. Eventually a combination of at least two anti-hypertensive drugs may be required to effectively control HBP. These drugs should be taken continuously on a long-term basis with regular blood pressure monitoring under the supervision of a physician.

This will enable the physician to achieve good blood pressure control and deal with any side effects that may arise. Any concerns you may have can be addressed through regular monitoring and health education by your physician.

 

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