Hypertension is a major cause of premature death and disability worldwide. It’s known as a "silent killer": though a serious disease, with life-threatening complications such as coronary artery disease, stroke, dementia, and chronic kidney disease, the majority of people are unaware of it as there usually are no warning signs or symptoms. If symptoms occur, they can be headaches, nosebleeds, irregular heart rhythms, vision changes, and buzzing in the ears – most people might not even associate it with hypertension.
Our blood exerts force against the walls of our arteries, and high blood pressure is diagnosed when this force is high. Hypertension is diagnosed if, when it is measured on two different days, the systolic blood pressure (“upper” readings) on both days is ≥140 mmHg and/or the diastolic blood pressure (“lower” readings) is ≥90 mmHg. Risk factors for hypertension include poor lifestyle choices, overweight/obesity, age, and family history.
About 33% of urban and 25% of rural Indians are hypertensive. Of these, only 25% rural and 42% urban Indians are aware of their hypertensive status.
Recent guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) state that high blood pressure should be treated earlier with lifestyle changes and in some patients with medication, at 130/80 mm Hg rather than 140/90. This range between 130/80 and 140/90, can be the golden chance where patients can easily bring their blood pressure down to normal by lifestyle modifications and prevent the need for lifelong medication.