What is hypertension?
Hypertension, otherwise referred to as high blood pressure is a chronic disease characterised by persistent elevated blood pressure above 140/90mmhg.
Does it happen only in the elderly?
It can occasionally happen in the young although it tends to affect many as we grow older.
How do we diagnose hypertension?
The only way to diagnose hypertension early is through routine checks. A few elevated readings have to be documented to confirm the presence of the disease. This is because the stress during a medical examination can also result in a spurious elevated reading.
Is there anyway to prevent hypertension?
There are a few risk factors that will increase the likelihood of developing hypertension. They are obesity, a sedentary lifestyle & excessive salt consumption. To prevent & delay the onset of hypertension, it is important to maintain an ideal weight, to engage in regular exercise and to avoid excessive salt consumption.
Could you elaborate?
- A sensible diet to maintain an ideal weight would be one rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low fat diary products while skimping on meats with saturated fats.
- A good exercise routine will comprise 5 sessions a week lasting at least 30mins. It should probably include both cardio and toning sessions.
- To reduce salt intake, it is important not to add extra salt to your foods. It will be good to minimize intake of processed foods as it is often high in salt content. Positive changes to the blood pressure can be seen within a month of effort.
When will I need medication?
When lifestyle changes fail to lower the blood pressure, medications should be started early to prevent onset of known complications. Hypertension is largely asymptomatic. However if left unaddressed; it will lead to heart failure, heart attack, strokes and kidney failure. The occasional side effects of medications can never outweigh the potential disability from hypertension.