Hypertension : The Silent Killer
Stress is an integral part of each one of our lives and it cannot be eliminated no matter how much we try. While a little stress is good and keeps us motivated, too much stress can increase a person’s risk of developing life-threatening lifestyle conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. When we are faced with a stressful situation, in addition to the emotional discomfort, our bodies react by releasing stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) into the blood.
These hormones prepare the body for the ‘fight or flight response’ by making the heart beat faster and constricting blood vessels to get more blood to the core of the body instead of the extremities. Hypertension–the silent killer–is a medical condition that often remains undiagnosed until relatively late in its course.
How Hypertension Kills You Silently
You don’t feel hypertension. Many hypertonic patients don’t even know they are suffering from it. But hypertension is dangerous! Every other person living in a civilized country dies from its sudden fatal consequences: Heart attack, stroke, embolism.
Affecting one billion people worldwide, the condition can be explained as, blood pressure levels exceeding 140/90mm Hg. Our body produces a surge of hormones when we are stressed. These hormones temporarily increase our BP by causing the heart to beat faster and the blood vessels to become narrow. The increased incidence of hypertension, or high blood pressure (BP), over the years can be attributed to a lack of exercise, a diet rich in fat and salt, obesity, increased level of stress and increased smoking and alcohol consumption.
Hypertension Statistics and Facts: It is estimated that the number of hypertensive adults will increase from 972 million in 2000 to 1.56 billion in 2025, a rise of about 60%. High BP is the result of abnormally high pressure of blood in the arteries. It affects more than 1 in 3 adults aged 25 & above worldwide.
In 2014, 158,334 or 1.8% of total deaths happened due to hypertension in India. BP should normally be around 120/80 mm Hg. High BP, in most cases, is asymptomatic and silent, so unless it’s monitored actively, it stays hidden. The symptoms are usually vague—dizziness, headache, nosebleeds, flushing, tension and fatigue—so it can be missed easily. Hypertension is a main risk factor for stroke and a major risk factor for heart attack, heart failure and kidney disease. 30 per cent of women and 32 per cent of men have high blood pressure.
Don’t Take Insomnia Lightly
If you are the kind of person who resorts to counting sheep with increasing frustration every night, or staring glassy-eyed into an abyss of semi-darkness you need to worry about this. Those who take longer than 14 minutes to fall asleep face a greater risk of hypertension, according to research published last year in Hypertension, the American Heart Association’s journal.
Sugar Is Worse Than Salt for Hypertension
It is often said that large consumption of salt can trigger BP but recent studies suggest the large sugar intake is worse. One of the first recommendations your physician probably gave you was to cut back on salt. Yet, there’s far more to maintaining a healthy blood pressure than eating a low-salt diet – a strategy that works for some people and fails for others. A common tendency of people to beat stress is to consume high sugar and trans fat-laden comfort food and indulge in vices such as drinking and smoking.
This further makes one’s blood pressure worse and also triggers diabetes in the long run. Excess consumption of both salt and sugar can contribute to hypertension. Research presented at the Experimental Biology 2016 meeting in San Diego, US, in April shows that high levels of fructose may predispose individuals to hypertension.
A reduction in the intake of added sugars, particularly fructose, and specifically in the quantities and context of industrially-manufactured consumables, would help not only curb hypertension rates, but might also help address broader problems related to cardiometabolic disease, the study suggests. How to Cure Hypertension
How to Beat Hypertension – Stress Buster Treatment
- Lose extra pounds: Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Being overweight also can cause disrupted breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea), which further raises your blood pressure. Besides shedding pounds, you generally should also keep an eye on your waistline. Carrying too much weight around your waist can put you at greater risk of high blood pressure.
- Eat a healthy diet: Eating a diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 14 mm Hg. This eating plan is known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. Consider boosting potassium. Potassium can lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure. Top sources of potassium-rich produce to achieve low blood pressure include sweet potatoes, tomatoes, orange juice, potatoes, bananas, kidney beans, peas, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, and dried fruits such as prunes and raisins. Cut salt smartly, cutting sodium means more than going easy on the saltshaker, which contributes just 15% of the sodium. Even a small reduction in the sodium in your diet can reduce blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg.
- Listen calming music: Need to bring down your blood pressure a bit more than medication or lifestyle changes can do alone? The right tunes can help you get low blood pressure, according to researchers at the University of Florence in Italy. They asked 28 adults who were already taking hypertension medication to listen to soothing classical, Celtic, or Indian music for 30 minutes daily while breathing slowly. After a week, the listeners had lowered their average systolic reading by 3.2 points; a month later, readings were down 4.4 points.
- Exercise regularly: Regular physical activity — at least 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). It’s important to be consistent because if you stop exercising, your blood pressure can rise again. Exercise helps the heart use oxygen more efficiently, so it doesn’t work as hard to pump blood. The best types of exercise for lowering blood pressure include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing.
- Reduce and Manage Stress: Stress can increase blood pressure, at least temporarily. Many activities can help you stay calm while dealing with daily stresses. Many of the same healthy actions that are good for your blood pressure — like eating right and exercising — can also counteract stress.
- Meditation: In addition to exercise, other forms of relaxation like meditation or deep breathing are also helpful. Slow breathing and meditative practices such as yoga decrease stress hormones, which elevate renin, a kidney enzyme that raises blood pressure. Try 15 minutes in the morning and at night for low blood pressure. Inhale deeply and expand your belly. Exhale and release all of your tension. It is often said in India, meditation is cure to all the ailments.
Also Read: Why Desi Ghee Is Good For Your Heart