What is high blood pressure (hypertension)?
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a condition in which blood vessels constantly experience high blood pressure. Through the blood vessels is transferred from the heart to all other parts of the body. With each contraction, the heart pumps blood into the vessels. Blood pressure is created by the force of blood pumped by the heart and acting on the walls of blood vessels (arteries). The higher the pressure, the harder the heart to pump blood.
Normal blood pressure in adults is defined as a blood pressure of 120 mm Hg1 at the time of contraction of the heart (systolic) and a blood pressure of 80 mm Hg at the time of its relaxation (diastolic). Blood pressure is considered elevated or high if systolic blood pressure is equal to or greater than 140 mm Hg and / or diastolic blood pressure is equal to or greater than 90 mm Hg.
2. Why is high blood pressure dangerous?
The higher the blood pressure, the higher the risk of damage to the heart or blood vessels in the main organs, such as the brain or kidneys.
Uncontrolled hypertension can lead to a heart attack, an enlarged heart and, ultimately, heart failure. Extensions (aneurysms) may develop in the blood vessels and there may appear vulnerabilities in which the vessels are more likely to become blocked and torn. Pressure in the blood vessels can lead to bleeding in the brain and the development of stroke. Hypertension can also lead to kidney failure, blindness, and cognitive impairment.
The health effects of hypertension can be exacerbated by other factors that increase the likelihood of heart attack, stroke, and renal failure. These factors include tobacco use, unhealthy diet, harmful use of alcohol, lack of physical activity and sustained stress, as well as obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes.
3. How to prevent and treat high blood pressure?
All adults should control their blood pressure, know their blood pressure is important. In the case of high blood pressure, consult a health professional.
For some people, it may be enough to change their lifestyle to normalize their blood pressure — stop using tobacco, go on a healthy diet, exercise regularly and avoid harmful alcohol. Reducing salt intake can also contribute to this. For other people, such changes are not enough, and they need medications to regulate blood pressure.
Adults can support treatment by adhering to medical prescriptions and monitoring their health.
People with high blood pressure who also have high blood sugar, elevated blood cholesterol, or kidney problems are at increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Therefore, it is important to regularly check blood sugar levels, blood cholesterol levels and urine protein levels.
To minimize the risk of developing high blood pressure and its adverse effects, each person can take five specific steps:
lead a healthy lifestyle and pay special attention to the proper nutrition of children and young people;
reduce salt intake to less than 5 grams per day (slightly less than one teaspoon);
a day; reduce saturated fat intake and total fat intake.
Avoid harmful use of alcohol, that is, limit consumption of one standard dose of alcohol per day.
Engage in physical activity:
regularly maintain physical activity and encourage physical activity of children and young people (at least 30 minutes a day);
maintain a normal weight: the loss of every 5 kg of excess weight can contribute to a decrease in systolic blood pressure by 2-10 points.
Stop tobacco use and exposure to tobacco products.
Manage stress in such healthy ways as meditation, proper exercise and positive social contacts.
4. How widespread is high blood pressure?
More than one in five adults in the world has increased blood pressure – this condition leads to almost half of deaths from stroke and heart disease. Complications of hypertension cause 9.4 million annual deaths in the world.
In almost all high-income countries, widespread diagnosis and inexpensive drug treatment have led to a sharp decline in the proportion of people with high blood pressure and average blood pressure at the level of the entire population. This contributed to a reduction in mortality from heart disease. For example, the prevalence of high blood pressure in the WHO region for the Americas in 2014 was 18%, compared with 31% in 1980.
Conversely, low-income countries have the highest levels of high blood pressure prevalence. It is estimated that over 30% of adults in many countries in the WHO African Region have high blood pressure, and their proportion is increasing. Moreover, the average blood pressure levels in this region far exceed global average levels.
Many people with high blood pressure in developing countries are not aware of their illness and do not have access to treatment that helps keep their blood pressure under control and significantly reduce the risk of death and disability from heart disease and stroke. The identification, treatment and control of hypertension is an important public health priority throughout the world.