Globally the incidence and threat of high blood pressure are continually increasing. In India alone, 1 in 4 adults has hypertension. However, only 12% of them are known to have their blood pressure levels under control (1). Uncontrolled blood pressure is one of the most common risk factors for cardiovascular diseases like stroke and heart attacks. In India, cardiovascular deaths are responsible for around one-third of the total deaths. Hypertension kills more adults in India than any other disease. Thus proper awareness and management are needed to protect the health and well-being of the population.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure poses a wide range of risks to patients. Some of them may be listed as follows:
Uncontrolled high blood pressure destroys the arterial walls. It makes a person prone to develop plaque deposits that narrow, harden and block the arteries. They may result in blood clots that can flow through the bloodstream. It will, in turn, block the blood flow to the brain or heart2. This may result in a stroke or heart attack.
A person faces chest pain or angina when his heart cannot get as much blood as is required. For example, when hypertension patients perform activities like exercising, going up steps or walking uphill, angina can lead to a feeling of fullness, pain, pressure and squeezing in the chest.
Kidneys help the human body to flush out toxins while regulating many complex functions of the body. Uncontrolled high blood pressure may cause damage to the arteries around the kidneys. It may, in turn, lead to kidney failure in patients.
The small blood vessels of the eyes can be damaged or strained due to high blood pressure. It may also lead to swelling of the optic nerve. Because of this, controlling blood pressure is crucial to reverse these vision problems. Untreated high blood pressure can result in permanent vision impairment or loss.
Peripheral artery disease occurs when the arteries in the head, legs, stomach or arms are narrowed. It causes pain, fatigue and severe cramping. These patients are at a higher risk of stroke and heart attack.
A hypertensive crisis is a medical emergency. It raises blood pressure above 180/120 rapidly. It may cause organ damage and may also lead to different life-threatening complications. Common symptoms include blurry vision, lightheadedness, dizziness, severe headaches and shortness of breath. Nosebleeds, pain and chest discomfort are also common. On observing these symptoms, the patient must visit the nearest hospital and consult a doctor.
Protecting your cardiovascular health should be one of your topmost priorities. Regular check-ups and monitoring have become imperative. Even if hypertension is detected, it can be treated successfully with medication and lifestyle changes. Lowering blood pressure is possible if a patient takes prescribed blood pressure medications and follows lifestyle modifications. These include eating a low-sodium diet, regular exercise, limiting alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking.