Hypertension is not new to the ears. In fact, you’ve probably been hearing about it from adults since your childhood. Hypertension is, after all, a worldwide concern.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), ischemic heart disease and stroke are the two leading causes of death in 2015. These two accounts to a total of 15 million deaths in 2015 alone. And, not surprisingly, hypertension is a major risk factor for these two leading causes of mortality.
Hypertension has been branded as a silent killer. When you hear the word hypertension, you already know that it means increased blood pressure. Before you go into the management of hypertension, let us discuss first what an elevated blood pressure does to the body.
The Silent Killer
High blood pressure can gradually damage your body for years without presenting any serious signs and symptoms. Until one day, a particular organ in your body would finally reach its threshold and bombard you with illnesses and restrictions left and right.
Blood vessels – High blood pressure, if left uncontrolled, can damage the inner lining of your arteries. When this inner lining is damaged, fats can attach and build upon it. This would make your artery narrower and less elastic.
Another danger of constant high blood pressure exerted on the walls of the arteries is the development of an aneurysm. An aneurysm is a weakened portion of the artery that formed a bulge or a pouch. The walls of an aneurysm get thinner as the pouch grows bigger. If it ruptures, the resulting internal bleeding would be dangerous.
Kidneys – Hypertension can damage the blood vessels leading to and in your kidneys. These tiny blood vessels called glomeruli are very important to carry out the kidneys’ function of filtering your blood. If these are damaged, your kidneys won’t be able to get rid of wastes, resulting in an accumulation of toxins in your system and many other organ complications.
Heart – Your heart works double if you have high blood pressure. This could result in enlargement of the left side of your heart, the chamber which is responsible for the pumping of blood throughout your body. When your heart has overexerted itself, it could become weak and ineffective in pumping out blood. Eventually, this could lead to heart failure.
The consistently high pressure of blood could damage your coronary arteries. These are the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Damage to your coronary arteries would result in thrombus formation. This build-up would lead to narrowing and, eventually, blockage of your coronary artery. Once it’s blocked, the portion of the heart that it supplies with blood could die, leading to ischemic heart disease.
Brain – Your brain is highly reliant on your blood to supply it with oxygen and glucose. If the supply of oxygen to the brain is cut for 10 minutes, irreversible brain damage could occur. If you have uncontrolled hypertension, the blood vessels in your brain could be damaged. This could block and narrow the arteries. The formation of blood clots in your brain could lead to stroke.
Management of Hypertension
High blood pressure is fatal if not managed well. You should observe strict adherence to your daily drug maintenance and go on frequent trips to the doctor. If you are already suffering from hypertension, Science says that the following could help you manage your elevated blood pressure.
- Quit smoking. Research shows that smokers who are hypertensive have higher chances of developing severe forms of hypertension.
- Lose weight. It has been shown in this 2008 research that weight loss is directly associated with lowering blood pressure. Obesity and being overweight are risk factors for cardiovascular diseases as well as hypertension. If you are in this category, losing weight could help decrease your blood pressure and save you from potential complications.
- Diet. Cut your salt and fat intake and ingest more fruits and vegetables. A 2014 study has shown that a moderate reduction of salt intake to less than 5-6 g/day could benefit a person’s cardiovascular health. The World Health Organization itself strongly recommends the reduction of salt intake to address the growing crisis on hypertension.
- Exercise. Aerobic exercises are generally recommended for people suffering from hypertension. It could lower the blood pressure for up to 5-7 mmHg in adults. A research conducted in 2015 has shown that the addition of dynamic resistance exercises with aerobic exercises could achieve better results.
- Monitor. Daily monitoring of your blood pressure could improve hypertension control. This 2010 research has shown that there are significant improvements in the blood pressure reading when home blood pressure monitoring is observed. You could use some of the best manual blood pressure cuff to monitor your blood pressure.
Observing these essential tips, plus frequent consultations with your doctor could help you lead a normal life despite living with hypertension. Do you have to put up with elevated blood pressure as well? How do you manage it? Share your experience in the comment section below. We’d love to hear it.