Hypertension – All You Need to Know About It

Hypertension – All You Need to Know About It

What’s inside?

  • Why chronic conditions do more harm rather than the disease?
  • What exactly happens inside your body in the condition of high blood pressure or hypertension?
  • Lifestyle factors that impact Hypertension
  • Why yoga is the best way to manage and control Hypertension?

It is often said that that instead of diseases, it is chronic conditions that are the true bane of people, at least those in the middle class bracket – and it is true. While effective vaccinations and treatments have rendered many old diseases harmless, it is chronic illnesses, which start of slowly, and continue to cause distress for the rest of our lives, that plague our existence today. Most of these, such as heart conditions, asthma, diabetes, etc. are the result of a combination of genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle practices. While the first two may be out of our hands, the last is something that can definitely be worked upon.

One very common chronic condition that is faced by the majority of the population today is Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure.

When our heart pumps our blood, it courses through the arteries, reaches the organs, and is collected back by the veins. The force with which the heart pumps depends on two factors – pressure in the arteries when the heart fills with blood and gets oxygen (measured in diastolic pressure in pressure readings), and the pressure in your arteries as your heart muscles contracts (systolic pressure in the blood pressure readings). Hypertension occurs when the force of the blood pushing against our arteries is too high, consistently.

A major problem with high blood pressure is that is often does not show any symptoms. Even in severe cases, the symptoms often occur in the form of headache, vision problems, chest ache etc., which are either dismissed as temporary problems or seen as a symptom of some other illness. Hypertension also has a strong family history, rendering even young individuals vulnerable to the problem. Thus, it can be a difficult problem to detect.

This problem of detection would only be serious if the disease itself carries some dangerous consequences, which it does.

The greatest problem with high blood pressure is that it renders the circulatory system ineffective, as the muscles of the heart work harder, and especially in a way that damages both the heart muscles and the arteries. The vessels of our body are delicate tissues, and such harsh pressure can cause tears in them. Over time, bad cholesterol may deposit at these tears, creating narrow passages, and thus even higher blood pressure. Ultimately, heart attack, stroke, and arrhythmia become possible consequences.

Even without these extreme consequences, high blood pressure can be a difficult and complicated thing to deal with, requiring constant vigilance and long-term medical support. Prevention thus becomes the best cure, and regular medical checkups and understanding one’s family history is an important part of that.

Despite best precautions however (especially when environmental and genetic factors are involved), you may either develop high blood pressure, or remain especially vulnerable to it. Remember that while nature and nurture do play a role, lifestyle habits are just as important in the onset, intensity, and ultimately, the control of chronic conditions such as hypertension. Here are some important lifestyle factors that can impact hypertension –

  • Diet

Eating heavily processed junk food often sits heavy on the stomach, and it can sit heavy on your circulatory system too. A diet low in carbohydrates and processed sugar (which often hides tremendous amounts of carbs) can lead to an increase in high blood pressure, as glycemic levels and blood pressure seem to be closely related. In fact, studies have shown that while cutting down on salt is moderately beneficial to people with hypertension, a low sugar diet followed for only a few weeks can lead to measurable decrease in blood pressure levels. [1] Thus, a healthy diet full of homely meals balanced by occasional indulgent treats, sweet or savory, can help in blood pressure control.

  • Exercise

There is a reason why exercise is a staple recommendation for so many conditions and illnesses – it actually works. Studies have shown that even simply walking at least forty minutes a day can significantly reduce your blood pressure. Exercising keeps the circulatory system strong, and also encourages weight loss, another significant factor associated with hypertension. Higher fat content in the body requires more effort by the arteries to ensure that blood reaches the organs, thus creating higher blood pressure. Hence, physical activity is a must for controlling high blood pressure.

  • Yoga

You might have thought, or believed, that yoga should be covered under exercise, but Yoga tends to be much more than just physical exercise. While it does work out the body, it also involves a number of other things – breathing exercises, stretching, and a confluence of the mind and body are just some of the things yoga offers. Indeed, it is an entire lifestyle, characterized by active efforts to unite the mind and body for the betterment of both. Many comprehensive reviews, having taken into account numerous studies, have concluded that yoga can act as a very effective tool to deal with both hypertension, and the risk of developing hypertension[2].

Above all, yoga is perhaps the only tool for hypertension that approaches the condition from both a physical and mental angle, and thus provides dual benefits when dealing with hypertension.

As a chronic condition, high blood pressure becomes a lifelong companion once an individual develops it. However, that does not mean that they will have to suffer with complications, lowered productivity, and compromised happiness for the rest of their lives. Instead, with the right social support, medical aid, and lifestyle practices such as yoga, people with hypertension too, can live their best life. The only way you would fall prey to the negatives of the condition is when you give up, so don’t.

[1] “High blood pressure: Why excess sugar in the diet may be the ….” 5 May. 2017, https://www.diabetes.co.uk/in-depth/high-blood-pressure-excess-sugar-diet-may-culprit/. Accessed 21 Dec. 2019.

[2] “Yoga and hypertension: a systematic review. – NCBI.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24657958. Accessed 21 Dec. 2019.

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