High Blood Pressure (BP) – A Silent Killer
High Blood Pressure (BP) is also known as The Silent Killer.
High Blood Pressure (BP) is one of the biggest health epidemics that faces India today. According to the Journal of Hypertension, a 2014 report on India states that an overall hypertension prevalence of 29.8%, indicating that as many as 378.5 million Indian adults may suffer from hypertension.
Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardio-vascular diseases that killed 2.7 million people in 2004 and will result in the death of over 4 million people by 2030.
High blood pressure can cause numerous problems like diabetes, stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and even death!
This is as sad as alarming because of the preventable nature of this condition
What is High Blood Pressure (BP):
Blood Pressure is created by your heart when it pumps the blood through the blood vessels. Without this blood pressure the blood will be unable to course through our entire body thus depriving it of oxygen. One of the most critical functions of blood is to carry oxygen and carbon dioxide from our lungs to the rest of the body. So now you know how important blood pressure is.
Healthy arteries are quite elastic. And they can adapt by stretching when the blood pressure varies occasionally on the higher side. But what happens when the blood pressure is high constantly for a longer period of time?
This can damage your arteries and other organs.
So for your arteries & other organs to stay healthy, it’s important that your blood pressure be within a healthy range.
Fortunately, for us all, there are many things you can do to help keep your blood pressure in that particular range.
Understand your blood pressure readings:
Blood pressure is measured in ‘millimetres of mercury’ (mm Hg) and is written as two separate numbers, like this:
Read as “120 over 80 millimeters of mercury”, where 120 is the systolic reading and 80 is the diastolic reading.
What is Systolic Reading?
Systolic Reading is the larger number, which is also the higher of the two readings. It measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats (when the heart muscle contracts).
What is Diastolic Reading?
Diastolic Reading is the smaller number, which is also the lower of the two readings. It measures the pressure in the arteries between heartbeats (when the heart muscle is resting between beats and refilling with blood).
Blood Pressure Range
According to the American Heart Association, 120/80 is considered to be the normal blood pressure. The range between 120/80 – 140/90 is referred to as ‘pre-hypertension’ and anything over 140/90 is categorized as the emergency care range aka. high blood pressure stage 1. The range between 140/90 – 160/100 is known as high blood pressure stage 2.
That said, it is important to understand that a one time reading does not necessarily indicate hypertension. Exercise & stress are two situations that can temporarily elevate blood pressure in the severe blood pressure range, but is not dangerous for healthy individuals.
In fact the blood pressure reading needs to be consistently high or raised for a number of subsequent blood pressure checks. A one time high blood pressure reading does not count.
Hypertension in India
According to Dr. Sailesh Mohan, Senior Research Scientist & Adjunct Associate Professor, Public Health Foundation of India, it is estimated that 20-40% population in urban areas and 12-17% in rural areas have hypertension. A World Health Organisation estimate of 2008 has suggested 33% men and 32 % women older than 25 years had hypertension in India. And 25 years of age is very young to have something as limiting and dangerous as hypertension.
An Integrated Disease Surveillance Prevalence Survey of 2007-08 indicates a very high percentage of Indians are in a pre-hypertension stage. Mizoram had 58.5% people in pre-hypertension stage although the actual population suffering from high blood pressure was only 19%. This was followed by Uttarakhand with at 48.8%, Kerala at 48.1% and Maharashtra at 46.2%. Other states like Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh also had over 40% of the population in the pre-hypertension stage.
These percentages are indicative of the number of people who can be saved from this condition by educating them to make some lifestyle changes. These changes will then go on to improve and increase their life quality and life span.