Embracing a healthy lifestyle on Hypertension Day

Dr Chitralekha Nayak | MAY 20, 2023, 11:27 PM IST
Embracing a healthy lifestyle on Hypertension Day

World Hypertension Day is observed annually on May 17 with the primary objective of raising awareness and educating people about hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. With the focus on educating individuals about the risks associated with hypertension, activities conducted globally on the designated day are aimed at inspiring positive changes in their daily habits to promote better cardiovascular health.

Hypertension can indeed have a significant impact on four key organs: the heart, brain, kidneys and eyes. There are long-term health consequences for uncontrolled hypertension. Chronic uncontrolled high blood pressure leads to an increased risk of developing stroke, bleeding in the brain, chronic kidney dysfunction, heart attacks and retina changes.

The risk factors for hypertension are associated with various causes. Hypertension can be influenced by a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors.

High blood pressure typically develops gradually and can be a result of unhealthy lifestyle habits such as a lack of regular physical activity. Lifestyle changes, can have a significant impact on hypertension,. Hence modification of certain behaviours and habits can directly influence blood pressure levels. By adopting a healthier lifestyle, individuals can actively reduce their risk of developing hypertension or effectively manage their existing high blood pressure.

Certain medical conditions such as obesity, use of drugs, birth control pills, stress, anxiety, excessive alcohol consumption and hormonal imbalances such as an overactive thyroid gland and PCOS can also increase the risk of developing high blood pressure .

Diet also plays a crucial role in preventing and managing hypertension. Maintaining a balanced diet is essential for maintaining good health. One must refrain from carbonated beverages, as well as processed and unhealthy foods. It is recommended to choose a meal plan that incorporates a generous amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes and nuts. It is also advisable to limit the intake of salt and sugar.

In order to keep hypertension at bay, certain behaviours can be modified with awareness  . These  include avoidance of alcohol consumption and smoking, reduction of processed foods  and those containing high salt levels   . Reduced stress through relaxation techniques like yoga can also reduce blood pressure. 

In terms of preventing the condition through exercise, daily aerobics as well as strengthening exercises must be followed. The reduction of body weight plays an important role in preventing hypertension. A reduction of 1 to 2 kg lowers the BP by 2 to 3 mm of Hg. 

Engaging in a simple brisk walk can have remarkable benefits. It is recommended to aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity and exercise, five days a week. In addition to that, incorporating activities like yoga, meditation and relaxation techniques can effectively manage stress. Learning relaxation techniques is crucial. Participation in sports, recreational activities, as well as indulging in music, art and creative activities can greatly contribute to overall health and well-being. Regular physical activity can improve cardiovascular health, aid weight management, lower blood pressure and enhance blood vessel function. 

Home blood pressure monitoring kits have played a valuable role in the monitoring process. These user-friendly kits are easy to operate, allowing individuals to maintain a daily or weekly chart to track their blood pressure and identify any fluctuations that may occur.

With regards to hypertension impacting different demographics, such as gender and age groups, it is increasingly seen among the younger population in the less than 40 years age group due to increased stress, alcohol, diabetes and PCOS ( Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). Although hypertension is more commonly seen among males than females, current trends indicate both are equally at risk of developing high blood pressure. 

In conclusion, regular monitoring and follow-up with a healthcare provider are crucial for managing hypertension effectively. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, including a well-balanced diet, regular exercise and effectively managing stress, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of developing hypertension or help control their blood pressure if already diagnosed with the condition.

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