There is no doubt that there has been a surge of heart-related conditions among the younger population today including Gen Z. This has been in contrast to the earlier times when mostly the elderly and the aged were affected with heart conditions. And besides other reasons, it is hypertension or constant high blood pressure that has often been held as a major factor responsible for heart related disorders among youngsters today. Therefore, it is important to understand what hypertension is, its implications for heart health and the need for regular check-ups for everyone including Gen Z, asserts Dr S P Sarkar - Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine at Apollo 24|7, and Apollo Hospitals, Noida.
In this article, Dr Sarkar explains what causes hypertension in younger generation and how it impacts their heart health.
What is hypertension?
Hypertension is defined as blood pressure with systolic blood pressure higher than 140 mm Hg, or a diastolic pressure more than 90mm Hg. In simpler words, it occurs when the pressure of blood pushing against the arteries is higher than what is considered normal. While systolic blood pressure is the pressure exerted when the heart beats, diastolic is the pressure exerted on the walls of the arteries when the heart muscles relax.
Although there are different factors that are responsible for heart conditions, chronic hypertension is one primary factor. What chronic high blood pressure does is that it not only exerts excessive pressure on the heart muscles, but it also damages the lining of the walls of the arteries. As a result, it can lead to a build-up of plaque which in turn can cause narrowing of the arteries and reduced blood flow, or even blockage. Hypertensive heart disease can lead to either diastolic heart failure, systolic failure, or a combination of the two.
Different heart conditions caused by hypertension
There are a number of heart conditions that are caused by hypertension. Some of these are Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) and Left Ventricular Hypertrophy (LVH). While CHD occurs due to the narrowing of the artery, LVH involves thickening of the wall of the left ventricle, the part that supplies oxygenated blood to the whole body. In both cases, there is disruption of regular blood circulation in the body. So, if not treated timely, these two can lead to a range of other heart-related complications such as heart failure, arrhythmia, heart attack and cardiac arrest.
Unhealthy lifestyle choices, a major cause of hypertension
By most accounts, it is the unhealthy lifestyle choices that younger generation makes today that are making them susceptible to hypertension and related heart disorders. From eating food which is high in saturated fats and at odd hours, to sleeping untimely and late often in 'opposition' to the natural body clock, to avoiding regular exercising, to smoking, to putting on weight, to perpetually living a stress-filled life on account of career ambitions and poor personal relationships, there is a lot that is contributing to an unhealthy lifestyle of youngsters today. In fact, as frequently reported in the media, there are some youngsters who despite eating healthy and attempting to stay fit through regular exercising are getting affected with hypertension and related heart conditions. The explanation is that due to constant stress, they are continuously hypertensive with high blood pressure. The production of vaso-constricting hormones such as norepinephrine by the nervous system also leads to high blood pressure in them.
We need to remember that there are no particular and direct signs and symptoms of hypertension. So, the only way out is that not only youngsters and Gen Z but also the middle-aged and the older generations should become proactive and undergo a regular checkup for blood pressure.