Battling Hypertension with greater awareness

Hypertension as a condition has a deep impact on the human body that leads to other conditions and sometimes lethal consequences. 24% of all acute heart attacks, 16% of ischemic heart disease, 21% of peripheral arterial diseases, and 29% of strokes can be attributed to hypertension. India has seen a rapid increase in the incidence of hypertension and hypertension-related fatalities over the last few years. It is estimated that over 1/3rd of the population will soon be caught in the grips of this potentially lethal condition. The theme for this year’s World Hypertension Day is “Know your Number”, raising awareness of this condition and encouraging people to check their blood pressure levels.

Lack of awareness

Hypertension is a silent killer as most people would not have any outward signs and symptoms of the condition. Regular headaches, shortness of breath, dizziness, flushing of the skin and in adverse cases nosebleeds are some of the minor symptoms that keep it unchecked and untreated. According to a recent study by PLOS Medicine, despite the rising trend of hypertension, the diagnosis and treatment remains very low. More than half of persons suffering from hypertension are unaware of it. Hypertension accounts for about 10.8% of all the deaths and 4.6% of disability adjusted life years in India. With these numbers it is a wonder why there is little knowledge and concern of this condition among the general public.

Varied causes

Around 90-95 per cent of hypertension is primary hypertension where there is no single factor but several behavioral and genetic factors lead to rise in blood pressure. Consumption of high sodium content food, tobacco, smoking, sleep apnea (low levels of oxygen during sleep) are some of key factors responsible for primary hypertension. The change in lifestyle over the last few years have made the development of hypertension more prevalent. Hence individuals can develop hypertension without the individual recognizing any symptoms and further challenging their health.

Striking younger population

Hypertension is also striking at a younger age as India records a rising trend of hypertension among even teenagers. One in every five young adults in India has high blood pressure, according to research presented at the 70th Annual Conference of the Cardio logical Society of India (CSI). Also since there are no prominent symptoms there is no screening and hence detection of hypertension at this stage making the condition even more lethal.

All change begins with awareness, and this is also true for hypertension. It is necessary for all adults with high paced lifestyle and a family background of hypertension to be cautious and regularly monitor their blood pressure levels. The knowledge of the condition can help people with hypertension take measures and precautions to prevent any adverse impact and also take corrective steps to reverse the condition and improve their health. For a holistic development of a person’s health it is important to know the underlying macro indicators. This is why it is essential to “Know your number”.

The author is Vishal Phanse, CEO, Piramal Swasthya

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