Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are diseases that cannot be passed on from one person to another. It is surprising to note that despite this, 63% of deaths in India take place due to non-communicable diseases, and deaths resulting from disease of the heart and its blood vessels (called cardiovascular diseases) form 27% of these deathsi.
Today, on ‘World Hypertension Day,’ let us know more about this ‘silent killer’ which is affecting nearly 30% of our adult population. High blood pressure (BP) or hypertension, one of the main risk factors that increase the chances of heart disease, leads to about 1.6 million deaths per year in Indiaii. Either manual or digital BP monitors are used to record BP as two numbers, the upper number is systolic BP and the lower is diastolic BP. A reading of 120/80 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) denotes normal blood pressureiii. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), if two BP readings measured on two different days happen to be equal to or greater than 140/90 mmHg, then the person is suffering from hypertensioniv.
Common factors that place Indians at high risk for hypertension include sedentary work habits, high salt intake, alcohol consumption, smoking, and obesityv. Though most individuals with hypertension remain unaware of their condition, some symptoms of hypertension include a headache in the early morning hours, changes in vision, changes in heart rhythm, bleeding from the nose, and buzzing in the earsvi. Severe hypertension can even cause vomiting, confusion, anxiety, tiredness, and chest painvii. If untreated, hypertension increases the risk of heart attack, kidney diseases, stroke, and vision problemsviii.
How can we prevent hypertension?
- Exercise regularly to maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce your salt consumption to <5 g/ per day
- Avoid trans fats completely (e.g. maida, fried and baked foods)
- Eat lots of fruits & vegetables
How can we manage hypertension?
Checking your BP regularly is very important. Once diagnosed, you need to take your medicines regularly. If you suffer from other health conditions like diabetes, they too should be managed properly. Since most Indians remain unaware of their high BP levels, you must check your BP once in 6 months. In fact, it is recommended that BP checks are conducted every six months in all people more than 18 years of age and especially in individuals who are at higher risk such as those who smoke, the elderly (>60 years of age), and those who are obese or suffer from diabetesix.
It is important to remember that ‘Hypertension is a silent killer’ and on this occasion of ‘World Hypertension Day’ let us plan to get our BP checked every 6 months and commit ourselves to stay fit & healthy.
i. Hypertension in India (who.int)
ii. Hypertension_full.pdf (nhm.gov.in)
iii. Understanding Blood Pressure Readings | American Heart Association
iv. Hypertension in India (who.int)
v. Hypertension_full.pdf (nhm.gov.in)
vi. Hypertension (who.int)
vii. Hypertension (who.int)
viii. High Blood Pressure: Risks, Causes, Treatments (webmd.com)
ix. Hypertension_full.pdf (nhm.gov.in)