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Why Is High Blood Pressure A Leading Risk Factor For Cardiovascular Disease?

Knowing Your Blood Pressure: How Can It Save You From A Heart Attack?

Written by Tavishi Dogra |Updated : September 30, 2022 10:37 AM IST

High BP can silently damage the body for years before any symptoms develop. It is, in fact, one of the known risk factors for Cardiovascular Diseases (CVDs) and can even cause a deadly heart attack or stroke. Moreover, blood pressure often damages blood vessels, even more when an individual smokes, has diabetes, has high cholesterol, and is obese. Therefore, it is crucial to control high blood pressure to reduce the risk of life-threatening complications associated with CVD. Dr Sudheer Koganti, Consultant Cardiologist, Citizens Specialty Hospital, Hyderabad shares how improving hypertension control can save more lives.

But What Exactly Is Blood Pressure?

It is the measure of the pressure when your heart relaxes between beats. Blood pressure keeps going up and down throughout the day and night, and it's normal to go up while you're moving about or doing some activity. The three different blood pressure categories are low, medium, and high.

What Causes High Blood Pressure?

While most people develop high blood pressure because of their diet, lifestyle or medical condition, sometimes it runs in families. Some other factors increasing your risk of getting high blood pressure include:

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- Consuming too much alcohol

- Smoking

- Being Obese

- Sedentary Lifestyle

- Having too much salt

Other causes of secondary hypertension include:

- Kidney Disease

- Diabetes

- Medicines, such as oral contraceptives

The most common heart-related complications of hypertension are ischemic heart disease and heart failure. Besides increasing the pressure of blood flowing through the arteries,High BP may cause:

  1. Damage to the arteries: High BP causes damage to the cells of the inner lining of the arteries. As a result, the artery walls become hardened and less elastic, limiting blood flow throughout the body.
  2. Coronary artery disease: Damaged arteries have trouble supplying blood to the heart. Too little blood flow to the heart causes pain in the chest or angina, irregular heart rhythms, or even a heart attack.
  3. Enlarged left heart: High BP forces the heart to work harder to pump blood to the rest of the body, which causes the lower left heart chamber to thicken. This increases the risk of heart attack, heart failure, and cardiac arrest.
  4. Heart failure: Over time, high blood pressure can cause heart muscles to weaken and work less efficiently. Eventually, the weak heart begins to fail.

Controlling Hypertension Can Save More Lives

After 60 years, women are more likely than men to get high blood pressure. Besides, factors like pregnancy, birth control, and menopause further increase the risk of developing high blood pressure.

Here is what you can do:

Any comorbidity or family history of hypertension.

Reduce your daily intake of sodium. High sources of sodium include fast foods, precooked meals, processed meats, canned and dried soups, and salty snacks.

Consume fresh fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods, beans, etc.

Eat a healthy, balanced diet lower in salt and saturated fat.

Be physically active.

Achieve and maintain healthy body weight.

Avoid smoking, and if you don't smoke, minimize exposure to secondhand smoke.

Find healthy ways to manage your stress. Remember to take time out and pursue hobbies - singing, dancing, or writing.

Thus, if hypertension is diagnosed early and controlled effectively while no other risk factors are present, the risk of heart attack and heart-related complications can be significantly reduced.

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