Undiagnosed hypertension one of leading risk factors for deaths

New Delhi: Non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes have overtaken communicable diseases as the leading causes of mortality in urban areas, as per a recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report.

The report states hypertension is the third biggest risk factor for heart disease in India and is directly responsible for about 57 percent of all stroke deaths and 24 percent of all coronary heart disease deaths in India.

“The prevalence of hypertension has increased over the past decade. As per the National Family Health Survey, around 8 percent of women and 13 percent of men within the age group of 15 to 49 years are hypertensive. After 65 years of age, a higher percentage of women than men have hypertension. Controlling hypertension, however, can reduce the incidence of heart failure by almost 50 percent,” said Dr. Vanita Arora, Director & Head, Cardiac Electrophysiologist, Max Super Specialty Hospital.

Hypertension is referred to the frequently elevated blood pressure which causes the blood carrying arteries to narrow down thereby making it difficult for the blood to travel smoothly and easily throughout your body, making the heart work harder. When blood can’t flow freely to your heart, you can experience frequent chest pain or irregular heart rhythms. Over time, a higher workload leads to an enlarged or thickened heart. The condition limits the ventricle’s ability to pump blood to the entire body and increases the risk of heart attack, heart failure.

“The fact that no known cause of hypertension is derived among 90 percent of patients and most of them not even aware that they have hypertension until they observe symptoms related to heart disease, makes the scenario rather grim. Government initiatives such as the National Health Insurance Scheme which offer affordable secondary and tertiary care at any public or private empanelled hospital in the country, with benefits like cost of hospital stay and medication fully covered, can help in treating the large population affected by hypertension and other non communicable diseases,” said Dr. PR Sodani, President, IIHMR University, Jaipur.

Sedentary lifestyle, wrong food choices and lack of physical activity along with persistent exposure to stress are other factors which predispose the development of hypertension.

Certain common symptoms associated with high blood pressure, including sweating, anxiety, sleeping problems and blushing, should be paid attention to. If blood pressure rises to the level of a hypertensive crisis, the symptoms may include headaches and nose bleeds.

When left undetected, hypertension can cause damage to the cardiovascular system and internal organs, such as the kidneys. Apart from this, it is advisable to focus on lifestyle risk factors that can be modified. Limit the amount of alcohol consumption and quitting smoking are the first set of changes.

“Keeping a check on your salt intake can also help in minimizing the chances of hypertension to great extent. Eating more fruits and vegetables along with less fat is recommended for people who are at a risk of high blood pressure.

Weight control, stress control and indulging in moderate physical activity can considerably reduce the risk of hypertension,” said Sodani. (ANI)