Generating awareness of need to control high blood pressure

R. Sujatha

Two-thirds do not know they have high blood pressure

Doctors suggest walking for 45 minutes a day

CHENNAI: In connection with ‘World Hypertension Day’, city hospitals have planned a series of activities aimed at creating awareness.

The Government Royapettah Hospital has planned to carry forward the awareness message to the people in the areas nearby, and the Government General Hospital has organised a continuing medical education programme next week. There will also be a patient education programme during this time. The Government Stanley Hospital holds hypertension camps regularly, for most persons diagnosed with high BP are rarely aware of their condition. Many who come to the hospital seeking admission after suffering a stroke have been found to have high BP.

But such conditions could have been prevented, said K. Rajendran, Director, Institute of Non-Communicable Diseases, Government Royapettah Hospital. Hypertension follows the rule of fifty, say doctors who treat people with high blood pressure.

While two-thirds do not know they have high blood pressure, 50 per cent of those who know their condition do not take medicines. Fifty per cent of those who take medicines do not control their BP, said M.S. Amaresan of the Madras Kidney Trust and Hypertension Research Foundation. He cites a community in Mexico that does not consume any salt and hence is free from hypertension and related problems. The Trust conducted a survey of the urban population in Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai last year and found that around 30 per cent of those surveyed have hypertension. While he termed this as isolated incidence of hypertension, people with diabetes are at an increased risk.

The easy way to control hypertension is to increase intake of potassium, calcium and magnesium through food sources such as tender coconuts, orange juice and greens. High BP could lead to stroke, problems of the cardiovascular system and the kidney, “Irrespective of age the BP reading should be 110/80. Even a reading of 130/80 can cause complications in persons with risk factors. If it crosses 140/90 the risk is higher,” said consultant cardiologist V. Chockalingam.

If diabetics should walk 90 minutes a day then people with high BP should walk 45 minutes. For, the benefits of exercise last only for 24 hours, doctors point out.

“It is important to ask the doctor about the composition of medicines prescribed. Some drugs not only reduce BP but also protect blood vessels,” Dr. Amaresan said. Such drugs are not very expensive and easily available in India, he said.

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