Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Don’t let high blood pressure get you down


Based on a recent study by the Philippine Heart Association, high blood pressure is living up to its reputation as a silent killer as it is the fifth cause of death among Filipinos from research made by the Philippine Statistics Authority in June 2022. According to the said report, hypertension among Pinoys rose by 37% in 2021. That’s the highest it’s ever been since 1992.

High blood pressure (BP), once thought to be a condition of the elderly, has recently been found in at least 5% of Filipino youth aged 12 to 18. The more shocking finding was that hypertensive adults and adolescents, regardless of age, had the same profile: a higher BMI, waist measurement, and central obesity rate.

Why is it so tough to manage hypertension? The absence of warning signs or symptoms, according to the premier hospital in the Philippines, Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed). Dr. Saturnino P. Javier, Chief of the According to the Section of Cardiology, "usual symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, or shortness of breath are not specific to high blood pressure." They frequently appear when one's blood pressure has reached life-threatening levels. Worryingly, someone with high blood pressure may not feel anything at all. Measuring blood pressure using a sphygmomanometer is a very reliable approach that a doctor can use in the clinic to determine your blood pressure and whether or not you are hypertensive."

Dr. Javier cites the need to note these two numbers each time your blood pressure is taken on a sphygmomanometer. The first or upper number is called systolic blood pressure, the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. The second or lower number is diastolic blood pressure; that’s the pressure in your arteries when your heart rests between beats.

“When you have high blood pressure, the force of blood pushing against your artery walls is very high. This can damage the arteries and set up a series of events that can lead to catastrophic outcomes – like heart attack and stroke,” explains Dr. Javier. Local BP guidelines have been created, which adopt many recommendations from our American and European colleagues. These have provided blood pressure thresholds for medical professionals to follow.

In general, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a blood pressure of less than 120/80 mm Hg normal. A BP that is consistently 130/80 mm Hg is viewed as high normal and already warrants dietary and lifestyle recommendations.
Striving for the ideal BP seems like a tall order, but it’s a necessary one as Dr. Javier underlines. Uncontrolled high blood pressure makes you vulnerable to stroke, heart attack, and other conditions. These important lifestyle tweaks will make a huge difference:

When you exercise regularly, you strengthen your heart, which then pumps more blood with less effort. This decreases the force of blood on the artery walls and lowers blood pressure. You should target the ideal body weight, Dr. Javier emphasizes. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week. Smoking cessation is a very vital component of lifestyle intervention among hypertensive individuals. Nicotine serves absolutely no useful purpose in one’s overall health, adds Dr. Javier. It’s also best to focus on lean protein and fruits and vegetables representing the colors of the rainbow and to cut back on sodium or salt.
Managing stress is a must in dealing with hypertension. “When you’re stressed, the body releases hormones that elevate your heart rate and constrict blood vessels, causing your blood pressure to spike,” explains Dr. Javier. Go for a walk, meditate, spend time with family and friends. These have a way of calming you and lifting your spirits.
If you think you have high blood pressure, MakatiMed encourages you to see your cardiologist who can make a proper diagnosis and come up with the best ways to lower your blood pressure and prevent the condition from escalating.
For more information, please contact MakatiMed On-Call at +632.88888 999,
email mmc@makatimed.net.ph, or visit www.makatimed.net.ph.  Follow @IamMakatiMed
on Facebook and Twitter.

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