Hypertension or high blood pressure is one of the most common lifestyle disorder, but often it isn’t seen as the culprit until a serious medical problem appears. It is a dangerous disease in its own right, however, with multiple complications. It can permanently damage the eyes, lungs, heart, or kidneys. But, the good news is that like most of the lifestyle disorders, hypertension is preventable and even reversible to some extent. In fact, at times no medication is then required at all, provided the changes are adopted before the rise in blood pressure becomes irreversible.
A number of daily practices ranging from poor diet and minimal or no physical activity to poor psychological health collectively constitute an unhealthy lifestyle. A focus on these aspects is required so as to prevent disorders like hypertension. It is advised that a healthy diet rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables; lower intake of salt, sugar and saturated fats; moderate physical activity; limited alcohol intake; managing body weight and stress are some of the key lifestyle improvements that reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure.
High blood pressure, like every lifestyle disorder, poses two choices that many people find distasteful: live with positive habits or resign yourself to taking medication as you grow older. All lifestyle options are a matter of personal choice. Moving in the right direction doesn’t need to be drastic if you start early enough. Stay in your comfort zone while reassuring yourself that the zone can expand until you reach your ideal goal.
Hypertension in Indians
Hypertension is the most important risk factor for chronic disease burden across the world. Global burden of diseases study in year 2017 reported high systolic BP as the leading risk factor across the globe that accounted for 10.2 million deaths. Indians are more prone to hypertension and heart disorders, and are affected at a younger age than the Europeans.
The fourth District Level Household Survey reports an overall prevalence 25.3 per cent for hypertension in India that translates to around 207 million individuals. The rapid economic growth of India has been accompanied by demographic, lifestyle and cultural changes which in turn has significantly impacted the health status of Indians.
There are a number of key determinants for prevalence of hypertension in Indian population such as advancing age, changing lifestyle and dietary patterns, fitness status, alcohol intake, tobacco use, comorbidities, etc. Thus, there is an enormous challenge and an opportunity to improve the health status and prevention of chronic disease burden among Indians.