Hypertension is a common condition that affects millions of people including children and teens
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a symptomless silent killer that quietly damages blood vessels and leads to serious health problems. While there is no cure, using medications as prescribed and making lifestyle changes can enhance your quality of life and reduce the risk of diseases to the heart and kidney and also check other conditions like strokes. “Hypertension is a common condition that affects millions of people including children and teens,” said Dr. Heshani Karunathilake, Medical Officer in charge of Yowun Piyasa, Mithuru Piyasa Counselling Centre, Colombo South Teaching Hospital, Kalubowila
Normal blood pressure is less than 120/80, but the systolic pressure (120) could be elevated up to 130 in stage I and could be between the range of 130-139. In stage one diastolic pressure could be between 80-89 and at stage II high blood pressure is above 140/90. The Hypertension crisis is higher when the reading is 180/120.
Let’s take a look at the causes.
Smoking is a major cause and this could be any kind of tobacco. Obesity and being over weight are other causes apart from other non communicable diseases (NCD. The normal BMI should be less than 25, BMI Over 25 indicates being over weight and if it is more than 30 then you are obese.
Lack of physical activity is an emerging problem causing hypertension. With social and technological developments and busy schedules of people the time spent on exercise is less. The recommended time for daily exercise is one hour for children and half an hour for adults. Effective and cardio protective exercises are not the exercises done in a gym, but include walking, swimming and riding which will help you have better results.
Too much of salt intake is another cause for Hypertension. The daily recommendation of salt intake is 1 teaspoon (5g) per person. Our children consume more salty foods such as cocktail bites, sauce, sausages, cheese and may risk developing hypertension in the future.
As for other NCDs, mental stress plays a major role in hypertension. This happens with fast moving social and technological changes. As such people are in a competitive mentality and dealing with much stress. They are competing to achieve unreasonable goals within a limited timeframe and therefore, social expectations are very high. Due to the stress, the stress hormones in their bodies such as Adrenalin, Cortisol get released frequently and the end result is Hypertension.
Genetic predispositions and organ failure
Ageing, genetics and family history are difficult to control. But if we can control other modifiable risk factors, hypertension could be controlled. Organ failure could also lead to high blood pressure and these include conditions such as Chronic kidney disease, Adrenal and Thyroid diseases.
Sleep apnea is a condition seen in obese people which could lead to high blood pressure. Pregnancy induced hypertension
Pregnant women also have a chance of developing hypertension, but this is a temporary condition and will disappear after pregnancy. Women who take birth control pills could also develop Hypertension.
Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH) is the recommended diet for hypertension. DASH diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and low fat dairy foods. This diet helps to lose weight as well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
“It is advisable to stay away from Hypertension by bringing about changes in lifestyle in early years of life rather than taking medicine for a lifetime,” Dr. Karunathilake said in her closing remarks.