High blood pressure or BP or hypertension has been termed as the ‘silent killer’. It is essential to know in detail about this silent killer and take measures not to fall prey to it.
What is BP?
In simple words, blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. When the heart contracts and pumps blood, the force or the pressure of blood is at its highest. This is known as systolic pressure. The pressure of the blood comes down when the heart is at rest between beats. This is called diastolic pressure. So the pressure in your blood varies depending on the type of work you are doing. If you are jogging, your BP goes up, but when you are relaxing your BP comes down.
What is normal blood pressure?
Blood pressure readings have top and bottom numbers. When a doctor checks your BP he would mention the reading as 120/80 wherein 120 is systolic and 80 is diastolic. Your readings would determine the state of your health.
- Normal: Less than 120 over 80 (120/80)
- Pre-hypertension: 120-139 over 80-89
- Stage 1 high blood pressure: 140-159 over 90-99
- Stage 2 high blood pressure: 160 and above over 100 and above
- High blood pressure in people over age 60: 150 and above over 90 and above
Causes of High Blood Pressure
Almost 95 per cent of high blood pressure cases in the world have causes that are yet to be determined. Such cases of undetermined high blood pressure are called essential hypertension. High blood pressure is genetic in nature and has been known to affect men more than women. Changes in lifestyle and diet in this fast-paced living has shown its repercussions through essential hypertension. Talking of diet promoting hypertension, we need to be aware that it is the innocuous looking common salt that plays the villain. A majority of people with hypertension are salt sensitive, which means even a pinch of extra salt raises their blood pressure!
Other than salt, the other factors that raise the risk of hypertension are diabetes, obesity, lack of physical exercise, insufficient intake of potassium, calcium and magnesium, and chronic alcoholism.
If a direct cause for hypertension is identified, this kind of hypertension is called secondary hypertension. The causes may include kidney disease, tumours in adrenal glands, birth control pills and medications that narrow blood vessels.
Who are likely to develop hypertension?
- People who are genetically inclined
- Women who are pregnant but not healthy
- People who have crossed 30s
- Overweight/obese people
- Those who do not have much physical activity
- Those who love to eat fatty or/and salty foods
- People who suffer from less sleep or sleep apnoea
What happens if one has high blood pressure?
If blood pressure is left untreated, it could lead to some serious medical problems:
Tips To Prevent High Blood Pressure
- Maintain proper weight
- Reduce salt intake
- Restrict alcohol consumption
- Switch to whole grains, vegetables and fruits
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