According to the World Heart Federation, hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is the leading risk factor for mortality worldwide, being that it is responsible for approximately half of all deaths related to heart disease and stroke.
Impacting over 1 billion people, hypertension is often referred to as the “silent killer” because many individuals who have the disease are usually asymptomatic.
With many lives lost triggered by hypertension, it is imperative to raise awareness of this serious medical condition. World Hypertension Day takes place every year to bring to light the dangers of leaving high blood pressure undiagnosed and untreated. This year, it will be held on May 17 under the theme “Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer.”
To help in the global awareness-raising efforts, here’s your quick guide to hypertension.
What is High Blood Pressure?
You may be at risk of hypertension if you have a blood pressure level that has been consistently higher than the normal range of less than 120/80 millimetres of mercury (mmHg) as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Several factors may help heighten your risk, including:
- Poor lifestyle choices
- Obesity, being overweight, or diabetes
- Consumption of too much alcohol and salt or sodium
An Asian Development Bank Institute blog notes that hypertension is prevalent among men in high-income Asia and the Pacific (37.7%), followed by Central Asia and North Africa (36%) and South Asia (32%).
What are the Warning Signs?
High blood pressure often has no symptoms as mentioned earlier. You may have elevated blood pressure levels without knowing it because it develops over time. Having said that, however, high blood pressure is easy to detect.
Severe hypertension may manifest these symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Irregular heart rhythms
- Vision changes
- Buzzing in the ears
- Chest pains
- Muscle tremors
Measuring your blood pressure by a medical professional is the only way to know if you, in fact, have this condition.
While it is useful to have a blood pressure monitoring tool at home, it is always the best recourse to see your doctor as soon as possible once you have elevated readings.
If you want to know what your blood pressure reading indicates, head to our article titled “Do You Know What Your Blood Pressure Readings Represent?”
How is Hypertension Diagnosed?
CDC says the diagnosis guidelines may differ. Some medical professionals may consider you hypertensive if you have a consistent blood pressure level of 140/90 mmHg or higher, which is based on the 2003 guideline.
Others follow a 2017 guideline that states patients are suffering from high blood pressure if their blood pressure level is consistently 130/80 mmHg or higher.
When Should it be Treated?
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- Kidney failure
How is Hypertension Treated?
The first line of hypertension treatment includes medications. Your doctor may also ask you to make some lifestyle modifications to help improve your condition. Some lifestyle change tips include:
- Engage in regular exercise
- Eat a heart-healthy diet
- Have quality sleep
- Quit smoking and excessive alcohol drinking
- Manage your stress
World Hypertension Day is another opportunity to pay attention to your health and prioritize making the needed changes to live healthier and stronger. It is a step in the right direction to learn more about hypertension. Be empowered and take control of your health today. It is one of the most important things you can do for yourself.