Hypertension, an insidious threat

Hypertension, an insidious threat

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In the whole world, the number of people suffering from hypertension (WHO) is around 1.13 billion, of which more than a third without their knowledge.

This is not surprising, since on the one hand a large part of our population does not have blood pressure checked regularly and on the other hand because mostly this disease does not present any symptoms. Rarely and only in severe cases, hypertensives are subject to headaches, visual disturbances and / or ringing in the ears.

What is it

Blood pressure is the force exerted by blood on the walls of the arteries. It is measured in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) and expressed by two values. The first indicates the systolic or maximum pressure, which is obtained when the heart contracts, while the second indicates the diastolic or minimum pressure, obtained when the heart dilates.

Blood pressure varies according to different parameters: age, emotional state (especially stress), physical activity and time of day. It generally increases already after the age of 35 and in women, at the latest, after the onset of menopause. Negative emotions (such as the fear experienced in the doctor’s surgery by certain patients, called “white coat syndrome”) and intense exercise cause a passing increase in pressure.
In general, the normal values ​​are between 140 and 90 mm Hg.

The causes

In 90% of cases, the cause of high blood pressure is unknown, which is then called primary or essential hypertension. In most cases, the synergy of several factors causes this pathological rise in pressure: obesity, excess salt and alcohol, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, stress, taking certain medications (oral contraceptives , corticoids, etc.) and inheritance.

Much rarer, secondary hypertension can be linked to kidney disease or hormonal imbalance.

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The consequences

Untreated or poorly treated hypertension poses a serious threat to health. First of all it hardens, thickens and deteriorates the walls of the arteries, thus promoting the development of arteriosclerosis. In the long run, an artery subjected to excessive pressure is likely to burst, causing bleeding which, especially in the brain, can have very serious and even lethal consequences.

Having to cope with greater resistance to blood flow, the heart must provide considerable additional effort and this progressively leads to heart failure. Hypertension that has not been kept under control for several years can also be harmful to the eyes and kidneys (visual disturbances, kidney failure).

A global approach

Hypertension therapy is primarily based on improving life and food hygiene. Here are the main measures to be taken:

  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Limit the salt intake (sodium chloride). Cooking salt can be replaced with a dietary salt (based on potassium chloride). It is also necessary to avoid "hidden" salt in various foods (ready-made soups and sauces, industrially prepared foods, canned products, etc.).
  • Reduce the consumption of saturated fats (butter, meats and fatty cheeses), which increase the pressure, and increase that of unsaturated fats (fish, oils, seeds and oil fruits), which cause the opposite effect.
  • Moderate the consumption of alcohol and caffeine.
  • Favor a diet rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium. The first mineral is the natural antagonist of sodium, while the other two are effective against stress. In addition, magnesium has a vasodilator effect. In practice, it is mainly a matter of taking whole grains and products based on the latter, legumes, vegetables and fresh fruit as well as low-fat dairy products.

As a clinical study conducted a few years ago in the United States has shown, a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy products rapidly and durably decreases blood pressure. Furthermore, according to the latest research, the percentage of hypertension is lower in countries where there is a high consumption of calcium.

  • Exercise regularly. Endurance sports (fast running, running, cycling, etc.) are particularly recommended.
  • Manage stress.
  • Banning smoking, which not only increases pressure due to the vasoconstrictor effect of nicotine, but also constitutes a factor that promotes arteriosclerosis.

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14 Responses

    1. Since it is an asymptomatic condition, there is a possibility that we all suffer from it without knowing it?

          1. The normal values of your pressure are measured taking into account the minimum and the maximum: the first must not exceed 85 mmHg (millimeters of mercury), while the second must remain within 130 mmHg.

            1. So let’s say that you will be diagnosed with hypertension if values exceeding 90 mmHg and 140 mmHg are detected.

              1. If you have it, most probably the problem was caused by a set of factors that affect your genetic predisposition, but also your lifestyle and your diet. For example, if you have set your daily diet on dishes too rich in salt and have exaggerated with the doses of coffee, you will certainly have increased the risk.

                1. Not true, my mom is 82 years old, she eats everything salted regularly and drinks coffee after every meal …being doing it for a lifetime.

          1. I have been told that some have suffered from this disease because of medications that have been given to them by their doctors

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