Hypertension prevalence stands at 35 per cent among people in India

Erratic lifestyle in these modern times is making hypertension (blood pressure) a common ailment among public.

In fact, physicians in the capital allude to the fact that these days, patients between the age group of 30 and 40 years, which was not the case till recently, are falling prey to hypertension. \Thanks, largely to their apparent lack of control over lifestyle.

General physicians maintain that hypertension is a ‘silent killer' because it displays no symptoms and yet, has the potential to impact vital organs including heart, kidneys and brain.

Significant changes in lifestyle will be good enough to get a firm control over hypertension, doctors suggest.

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“Unofficial estimates suggest that hypertension prevalence is at 35 per cent among public in India while globally it is at 30 per cent. Earlier, patients above 50 years used to get hypertension, but now the patient demographic has changed and is now between 30 and 40 years,” says general physician and director of Surakshaka Hospitals Lily Rodrigues.

So, what exactly is high blood pressure? Heart pumps blood to the body through arteries. And when arteries become narrow or constricted due to various reasons, the heart starts pumping harder in order to move blood from the arteries to other parts of body. This leads to hypertension.

“That's why diabetes is closely linked to blood pressure. There is high level of cholesterol among diabetics and this cholesterol thickens the arteries. And this leads to hypertension among diabetics. Sedentary life and stress are major factors for hypertension,” Dr. Rodrigues points out.

Who are the high risk groups? Persons who are obese, lack physical activity, have ample abdominal fat and consume excess alcohol, have a family history of hypertension and diabetes form the high risk groups for hypertension. “Persons consuming large amounts of salt are also hypertensive. Salt contains sodium, which constricts blood vessels leading to hypertension,” explains Ch. Jaya Kumari, District Medical Officer, Ranga Reddy.

Ideal amount of salt

So what is the ideal amount of salt to be taken per day? “The vegetables that we consume already have some amounts of natural salt. So, on an average, a persons should not consume more than 5 gm of salt per day,” suggests Dr. Rodrigues.

When the patient should start worrying? Ideally blood pressure should be (120/80) mm (millimetres) of Hg (mercury).

Need for medication

“Patients should start taking medication when their BP is more than 130/90. Here 130 Hg in mm is the contraction of the heart (systolic) and 90 is the heart relaxation known as diastolic,” says Dr. Rodrigues.