‘Hypertension is a serious co-morbidity’

Published: May 17, 2020, 1:41 pm IST

New Delhi: Hypertension is a chronic lifestyle disease and in the wake of COVID-19 situation, it has emerged as a serious comorbidity especially among the elderly, say health experts.

Hypertension is a condition when a person’s blood pressure is consistently more than 140/90 mmHg. Often considered a ‘silent killer’ because it doesn’t manifest any specific symptoms and therefore goes undetected in many people, hypertension is the cause of many non-communicable diseases such as heart attacks, kidney failure, stroke and damage to the eyes.

According to Dr. P Venkata Krishnan, Internal Medicine, Paras Hospital Gurugram, its prevalence is widespread with different studies concluding anywhere between 33-50 percent of the population suffering from hypertension.

“Every third Indian adult has this disease. Its high prevalence makes all these people vulnerable to Coronavirus which may affect them more severely than those who are not hypertensive and increase the chances of death. Therefore, our aim should be to both check the number of new people who get hypertensive and help the hypertensive to manage their condition better. The disease also increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and blindness significantly,” states Dr. Krishnan.

“All this makes screening a must – anyone over the age of 35 years should get themselves checked for hypertension. Besides, right from childhood, people should be encouraged to live a healthy and active lifestyle with less sugar and fat intake and minimum 30 minutes of activity daily, says Dr. Manjeetha Nath Das, Internal Medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital.

Experts warn that hypertension can lead to severe health complications and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke if not taken care at an earlier stage. Once one hits 40, one needs to be extra cautious about one’s lifestyle.

“The age of 40 is a milestone, when our body begins to change internally and if not looked after, can lead to serious health complications. Lifestyle changes can help control high blood pressure. Daily lifestyle changes, such as reduced dietary sodium intake, weight loss, regular physical activity, and limited use of alcohol consumption, benefit not only elderly but also young patients with hypertension. If you successfully control your blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle, you might avoid dangerous events of life,” Dr. Tarun Sahni, Internal Medicine, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, New Delhi told IANSlife.

People above 40 are at an increased risk for high blood pressure if they are chain smokers, overweight or eat a diet that’s low on produce and fiber and/or high in fat and salt, excessively alcoholic and live with chronic stress or don’t get much physical activity. Some causes of hypertension cannot be controlled — including your genes and your race, he adds.

Here’s how to keep blood pressure in check:

Getting regular physical activity
Maintain a healthy weight
Limiting the amount of alcohol you drink
Abstaining from cigarettes and tobacco
Brisk walking
Avoid caffeine
Reduce stress

Our lifestyle determines our levels of hypertension. But sometimes lifestyle changes aren’t enough. In addition to diet and exercise, one must be recommended to take medication to lower blood pressure.

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