2017 May 16
High Blood Pressure, also known as hypertension, is when the force exerted against the walls of the vessels of your body during the blood flow is constantly high. If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, it means the arteries of your heart are receiving too much pressure repeatedly for a period of time. However, you are not alone in this. Hypertension is one of the most common illnesses found among adults (over 20) and some studies have found that two-thirds of adults above 65 years have hypertension.
High Blood Pressure in Sri Lanka
A survey conducted in Sri Lanka in 2014 has revealed that High Blood Pressure and Diabetes are the most common chronic illnesses suffered by Sri Lankans. Accordingly, the prevalence of high blood pressure among the members of the survey is 39% and such patients were above 65 years of age. Further, based on the industry and employment categories, high blood pressure was found the most common illness among senior managers and officials.
What causes high blood pressure?
The following are categorised as typical reasons for hypertension:
- High salt intake- patients of high blood pressure are specifically advised to avoid frequent admission of food items which contains a high level of salt.
- Family history – If one or both the parents and blood relatives are diagnosed with high blood pressure your chances of developing it are significantly high.
- Obesity, overweight, lack of physical activity, and high-fat diet- among others, studies have found that physical inactivity also leads to a specific abnormality in the arteries which results in a stiffness or lack of elasticity causing resistance to the blood flow.
- Smoking and alcohol consumption
High blood pressure is a silent killer. Whilst you may not feel anything significantly wrong, it can quietly damage your health. However, some of the typical symptoms include;
- A headache for several days
- Nausea- discomfort in the stomach with an urge to vomit
- Blurred or double vision
How do you read blood pressure?
The best way to diagnose high blood pressure is to have it measured. Blood pressure is usually measured with a pressure cuff- sphygmomanometer and is divided into five categories;
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
Systolic mmHg 90 or less, or
Diastolic mmHg 60 or less
Systolic mmHg 90-119, and
Diastolic mmHg 60-79
Systolic mmHg 120-139, or
Diastolic mmHg 80-89
- Stage 1 Hypertension
Systolic mmHg 140-159, or
Diastolic mmHg 90-99
- Stage 2 Hypertension
Systolic mmHg over 160, or
Diastolic mmHg over 100
However, it is important to bear in mind that single blood pressure reading is generally not enough to conclude hypertension. Your blood pressure can vary during the day, and a visit to the doctor may spike the reading due to anxiety or stress or if you have skipped meals before visiting the doctor. It is recommended to take several readings before diagnosing a patient with high blood pressure.
What does high bold pressure do?
When left untreated, the damage that high blood pressure does to your circulatory system is a significant contributing factor to heart attack, stroke and other health threats. It starts with increasing the workload of your heart.
When blood pressure is high, the heart and blood vessels have to put extra effort to flow the blood. This, over time, damages the delicate tissues inside the arteries, and bad cholesterol starts forming a plaque inside the vessels. This will narrow the arteries further raising the blood pressure, and it affects your heart causing heart attacks and eventually your whole body such as strokes, blood clots, kidney diseases, eye (hypertensive retinopathy), sexual inactivity, etc.
Treatment for high blood pressure depends on its severity and associated risks. For slightly elevated blood pressure your doctors may prescribe gradual lifestyle changes. For high blood pressure, your doctors may prescribe medication and regular exercises in addition to mandatory lifestyle changes. These include reducing alcohol consumption, eating healthily, low salt and caffeine consumption, losing weight, relaxation exercises and more sleep.