- What is the condition of High Blood Pressure or Hypertension?
- Genetic and lifestyle factors that contributes to Hypertension
- List of Do’s and Don’ts when you have a family history of Hypertension
Also known as high blood pressure, hypertension refers to a medical condition where the flow of the blood through the arteries is so forceful that it can put an individual at risk for numerous health conditions, such as heart disease.
Our blood is pumped by our heart into the arteries, from where it is distributed to the various organs. The deoxygenated blood is then collected back by the viens. The more blood pumped by the heart, and the narrower the arteries, the greater would be a person’s blood pressure. Beyond a certain limit, the heart may simply be unable to take the pressure and succumb to a heart attack. Other major risks include that of stroke, dementia, and poor eye and kidney functioning.
Hypertension has an insidious, secretive onset, meaning that it tends to develop slowly over time and often shows no symptoms. What’s more, the condition tends to run in families. Certain genetic factors cause a predisposition to hypertension, and are often shared by family members. Additionally, a number of lifestyle factors, such as tobacco and excessive salt consumption and being obese runs in the family too, and these environmental factors also contribute to high blood pressure.
Thus, it becomes all the more important to be vigilant about this condition if you have a family history of hypertension. Here are some do’s and don’ts that you should definitely look into –
- Schedule Regular Checkups – High blood pressure does not usually show any symptoms except in rare cases, and thus ordinary detection can be virtually impossible. Fortunately, the condition is easy to detect medically. Thus, if you have a family history, it is prudent to have regular medical checkups and integrate high blood pressure detection into them, especially past the age of 18. Even an early checkup can help in early detection, or even prevention.
- Be Conscious of Food Intake – Savoury food is an indulgence, but make sure it remains just that. Too much of sodium in the body leads to fluid retention, which can increase blood pressure. Alongside this, ensure your potassium consumption is adequate, as it helps in balancing sodium levels in the body. You can also start including green tea in your routine as its very good in controlling blood pressure.
- Be Physically Active – Inactive people tend to have higher heart rates, which means your heart has to work harder to pump blood, which causes greater strain on your arteries. Lack of physical activity is also a leading cause of obesity, which puts a greater strain on the arteries as more volumes of blood is required to supply organs with oxygen.
- Be Aware of Other Predisposing Factors – Alongside family history, older age, being female, and belonging to a particular race or ethnicity can increase your chances of developing high blood pressure. Knowing the combined risk of these factors can help you make a more realistic assessment of your risk, and help you prepare accordingly.
Alongside some things to look out for, here are some things to avoid –
- Avoid Alcohol and Tobacco – Tobacco creates an immediate increase in blood pressure, while also damaging and narrowing arteries. Alcohol too, can damage the circulatory system to the extent of causing high blood pressure, and increasing the risk for heart conditions as well. While it is always better to avoid these two substances, people with a family history of hypertension have increased incentives to say no to them.
- Cut Back on the Processed Food – Sugar and high carb foods, often packaged in the form of delectable junk foods, can be sweet on the tongue but deadly for the body. A low carb diet can help in effective blood pressure regulation, and it also has the added benefit of reducing weight – thus ensuring that another risk factor is reduced.
- Avoid Stress – In today’s time, this may seem like a tall order, but few psychological experiences take a toll on the heart and arteries like stress does. Regularly practicing yoga, meditation and deep breathing are some excellent ways to manage stress. Since stress management in itself is a great reward and helps both mental and physical well-being, it is a must-do option for those at risk with hypertension.
- Don’t Rely Solely On Medical Monitoring – Medical checkups are nowhere as frequent as they should be, and if you are at risk due to a family history or otherwise, it is critical to know if your lifestyle habits and changes are having a positive impact. Consult with your doctor on how you can monitor your own blood pressure at home, so that you can always be aware and know when and if changes need to be made.
- Don’t Consider the Condition as Final Verdict On Life – Hypertension affects millions across the world, and it can be a challenging condition to live with and deal with. However, with the right support, medical care and lifestyle changes and habits, you can live a healthy, happy and productive life like everybody else.
Like all chronic conditions, high blood pressure to carries it own sets of risks and predisposing factors, with family history being a major component that takes both genetic and environmental roots. So, if a close loved one has been diagnosed with hypertension, or you are aware of the condition running in your family, do not hesitate or delay in ensuring regular medical checkups for your entire family, and taking all the preventive measures that you can. Focusing especially on healthy lifestyle changes, such as integrating yoga and meditation into your daily routine, can go a long way in preventing hypertension and minimizing its problematic consequences.