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Punjabi men top country in hypertension

Dr Goel, principal investigator of the project, adds that uncontrolled raised blood pressure and/or hypertension can cause stroke, myocardial infarction, cardiac failure, renal failure, blindness, etc. “Tackling hypertension will avert many non-communicable diseases, disabilities and deaths.”

Written by Parul | Chandigarh |
May 17, 2022 6:34:09 am
Heart attack and stroke are the leading causes of death globally and in India. The most common reason is uncontrolled high blood pressure or hypertension.

At 37.7 per cent, Punjab has the highest number of men with diabetes in the country against the national average of 24 percent. This was part of the findings of the recent National Family Health Survey 2019-21 (NFHS-5), the fifth in the NFHS series. The prevalence of hypertension in women in Punjab is 32% while in Haryana, it is 22.9% in women and 26.2% in men. In Chandigarh, it is 30% in men and 25% in women, as against the national prevalence of hypertension in 22% of women and 24% of men.

“These are alarming figures, and need to be addressed urgently and on a priority basis,” says Dr Sonu Goel, Professor, Department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health, PGI, adding that most people are unaware of their blood pressure levels, particularly the younger population. The department is implementing a project entitled, ‘Strengthening the management of hypertension services through capacity building, media and communication and stakeholder’s engagement in the state of Punjab’, with an aim to strengthen the prevention and management of hypertension services.

Dr Goel, principal investigator of the project, adds that uncontrolled raised blood pressure and/or hypertension can cause stroke, myocardial infarction, cardiac failure, renal failure, blindness, etc. “Tackling hypertension will avert many non-communicable diseases, disabilities and deaths.”

Dr Dheeraj Khurana, Professor, Department of Neurology, says that hypertension is a leading cause of stroke. It puts an extra strain on all the blood vessels in the body and makes them stiffer and narrower. This can lead to clots forming and travelling to the brain, causing a stroke. Hypertension, adds Dr Khurana, is one of the biggest killers and is a silent killer as it causes a significant burden of heart attacks and stroke. “In the case of stroke, poorly controlled hypertension leads to a build-up of cholesterol plaque in the arteries which can further block a blood vessel. On the other extreme, very high blood pressure can cause the artery to burst and cause bleeding in the brain. To prevent hypertension, a healthy diet of fresh fruit and vegetables is recommended.”

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According to Dr Sood, excessive consumption of sugar, salt and trans-fats are the leading cause of non-communicable diseases. As per World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation, the total trans-fat intake should be limited to less than 1% of total energy intake, which translates to less than 2.2 g/day with a 2,000-calorie diet. “WHO recommends a salt intake of 5 gms in a day and 25 gms of sugar in a day, while just one bottle of soft drink contains 50 gms of sugar. Trans-fats, better known as bad fats, have been proven as one of the major risk factors for cardiovascular diseases worldwide,” explains Dr Sood.

Hydrogenated vegetable oil in the form of vanaspati is consumed in large quantities and is known for highest content of trans-fat. Cakes, cookies and pies, microwave popcorn, frozen pizza, refrigerated dough, such as biscuits and rolls, fried foods, doughnuts, non-dairy coffee creamer, and stick margarine — trans-fats are formed during partial hydrogenation, the addition of chemicals, a process that creates fats.” The doctor recommends eating fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, fish, using natural non-hydrogenated vegetable oils, and avoiding commercially baked and fried food, sweets, mithais.

Dr Ankur Ahuja, Senior Consultant, Cardiology, Fortis Hospital, Mohali, says that it is estimated that 15% to 25% of Indian adults have hypertension, but a majority of them remain oblivious about the disease. Hypertension is blood pressure (BP) that is higher than normal — blood pressure above 140/90, while pressure above 180/110 is termed severe hypertension. Hypertension or high BP — commonly termed the ‘silent killer’— poses a great risk for heart attack (myocardial infarction), stroke, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, peripheral arterial disease, and aortic dissection/aneurysm. “Prevalence of hypertension is rising fast among Indians. Women are more likely to have high blood pressure as they get older. It is important that one should keep tabs on one’s BP level and consult a cardiologist for assessment.” It is a common belief that headaches and hypertension are the same. But both the health conditions are separate, clarifies Dr Ahuja. In fact, those suffering from hypertension don’t usually exhibit symptoms till later complications manifest, and it is important that we keep tabs on our blood pressure.”

Stress, adds Dr Ahuja, is a major factor that can hamper one’s health over time. Lifestyle habits such as overeating and weight gain, inactivity, or drinking alcohol can lead to a further increase in blood pressure. Chronic health conditions such as kidney disorders, obesity, diabetes, and sleep apnea are commonly associated with hypertension. Dr Ahuja advises that even if one does not exhibit any symptoms, it is important to get their BP checked regularly. Reducing salt intake, avoiding food items that are high in sodium like pickles and chutneys, limiting alcohol consumption to only 60 ml per day, exercising, and avoiding processed and red meats are adivsed. Introducing changes in lifestyle, can help reduce blood pressure to a large extent and further reduce dependence on blood pressure medication.

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