"Does anyone really know what is pre-hypertension and its effects?" asks a senior cardiologist from Asian Heart Institute (AHI) in Mumbai. According to him, in pre-hypertension the blood pressure of the person stays higher than normal, however below the threshold of pressure 140/90. Adding to the definition, he says that when the readings from systolic pressure are in range 120 to 139 mmHg or diastolic pressure are in range of 80-89 mmHg, then it is called pre-hypertension.
A study was conducted on this topic of by the journal Act Cardiologica in 2011. From the sample of approximately 7,000 Indians living in urban areas, it was found that hypertension and pre-hypertension have almost same level of prevalence - approximately 32%. It was found that hypertension is more prevalent from in 60 to 69 years, while it was 30 to 39 years for the condition before it. Another senior cardiology specialist Dr. Naveen says that, both these medical conditions are tough on the body. They are responsible for making the heart muscle thicker with time, and eventually leading to hypertension.
Generally, both these are left unnoticed or is not given importance. The Journal of the American Medical Association (AMA) conducted a thorough research on 154,000 people in the age group 35-70 from 17 countries across the world on this topic. A filter they applied on find the samples was they should not have a history of heart problem. The results of the study were shocking - less than 45% of the people who had hypertension, were aware of it. This means precursor to it, being unnoticed, will be higher.
Dr. Naveen says that although there is no such research for Indians, the numbers are more or less similar if not higher. The main reason is there are no visible symptoms. Symptoms begin to show up only after the pressure move 140/90 levels. Also, these symptoms are generally ignored by Indians. In most cases, it is detected only when a person comes for regular check-up or for some other ailment. Dr. Naveen adds that if it was diagnosed at the right time, then there are chances of prevention of other diseases that it can result into later part of life, like heart attack, heart failure, and hemorrhage and kidney failure.
Most of the cardiologists in Mumbai advise to keep a track of blood pressure readings. They recommend that an individual should get blood pressure checked annually till the age of 40 years of age and after that every 6 months, especially if the family has a history of high blood pressure. Another advice that top cardiologists in Mumbai give is to maintain optimum weight and body mass index, because blood pressure and weight have a strong correlation.
Most doctors recommend maintaining a balanced diet is the start of keeping distance from pre-hypertension. Diet should be a mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy and maintaining low sodium content (less than 2300 mg per day). Also, controlling stress is an important factor. Moderate cardio exercises and walking for 30-45 minutes a day, will help deal with the condition.
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