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Friday, January 25, 2013

HYPERTENSION AT A GLANCE

The term ‘Hypertension’ medical name for high blood pressure is flung around so much in conversations, in doctors’ waiting rooms, in social gatherings that it is hard to ignore the ubiquitousness of this malady. It is estimated that roughly one in three adults’ world over are afflicted with it. Its scary nomenclature the ‘silent killer’ implies that it is a serious health issue and requires immediate  medical attention. It has no outward symptoms, though.

‘Blood pressure is the force of the blood pulsing against the walls of arteries. The pressure when the heart beats is called the systolic pressure. The pressure between beats when the heart is at rest is called the diastolic pressure. Any blood pressure below 140/90 is considered normal for an adult.’ ‘Hypertension’ if left untreated can lead to heart attack, stroke and kidney damage.

Till about a decade back I’d not even a passing interest in its presence. It was the other people who were suffering from it and I just switched off my ears when the conversation on the subject got animated in social gatherings. However, one of my colleagues in the college would always swallow a few tablets after the first period. She’d tell me some details of her ailments but I hardly took notice. I always thought  that if my friend would lose some weight her problems would be solved. I did not know at that time that it is not as simple as that.

But my approach changed dramatically when my hubby was diagnosed with hypertension. Onwards both of us devoured any information we laid our hands on. And before long I possessed fair knowledge of the ailment, its causes and how to keep it under check.

The foremost concern was dietary changes. My mother’s recipes helped in fixing simple but palatable meals. In retrospect I bless her for goading the reluctant me to the kitchen, to cook one dish every Sunday.
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The other day while sorting out old magazines and papers, I came across a magazine USA WEEKEND, which was a supplement in the local newspaper there which I’d brought back to India. While leafing through it, I spotted an article on Hypertension suggesting a specific diet plan for reducing and preventing the ailment. So I decided to share some tips culled from there. A professor of Medicine at John Hopkins University says that apart from medication and exercise, diet can equal drugs at controlling blood pressure. Following a special diet plan also lowers artery clogging cholesterol and homocysteine, promotes bone mass, cuts weight and may help prevent cancer. Further adds that by restricting sodium and alcohol intake one can achieve maximum health benefits.

Life style changes are the best bet for controlling high blood pressure. Reducing salt consumption through preferring fresh vegetables and fruit over canned or packaged stuff, which have loads of salt, is the first step on the road to adopting healthy eating habits. Shifting to lean cuts of meat, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products, provide sufficient micro nutrients our body needs for all round well being. Moreover fresh vegetables, fruit and nuts have more of heart friendly potassium, magnesium, calcium, fiber and very little salt. Eating these foods has double benefit of losing weight also. Being overweight contributes significantly to hypertension, diabetes and allied troubles.

Benefits are greater if consumption of saturated fats and sugary beverages are also restricted to minimum which have only calories and no nutrition. Confectionary items always contain loads of sugar, hydrogenated oils and salts which are no friends of good health. Only occasional food indulgences would do.

Something which is of utmost significance in preventing hypertension is regular exercise regimen. It is one single factor which can transform one’s life. Exercising your limbs, lubricates joints and promotes flexibility. It injects a new enthusiasm and love for life and smoothes away the depressive tendencies. Internet is overflowing with workable exercises which one can follow. But nothing can beat the effectiveness of walking as a form of exercise. It may not empty your mind but ideas are born and emotions are reflected upon and equanimity regained. The brain is stimulated for successfully taking upon life’s challenges.

Everyday hassles and other stressors trigger high pressure in the vessels and cause host of medical problems by reducing body’s immunity. Stress and tensions of modern day living are an accepted phenomenon now. We can’t ignore their deleterious effects on our body and mind. Learning relaxation techniques to deal with stress and taking things easy ought to be our mantra. Exercise also helps in releasing pent up emotions. Socializing is a good stress buster.

Cultivating faith in some supreme power that looks after the universe and adopting spiritual mindset boosts confidence and allays unfounded fears. By being kind and helpful to others unconditionally makes one feel good inside. Accepting things gracefully which you can’t change, bring harmony and peace of mind.

Meditating only for a few minutes daily while focusing on your breathing, calms the mind and heart. These simple steps can go a long way in helping us to live a better life.





 P.S:The post is based on some research, my own general readings and experiences.It is not a substitute for medical advice. Sources: USA WEEKEND Feb13-15,2004; Issues of HEALTHbeat, A Harvard Medical School publication and KAISER PERMANENTE, HEALTHWISE handbook

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12 comments:

  1. Very informative indeed! Thank you.

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  2. Thank you Deepak ji for liking the post.

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  3. Hi Murthi ji, Welcome to the blog and thanks very much for the kind words.

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  4. Hi Nandini,Thanks! I like your individualistic style of writing and enjoy reading your posts.

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  5. Very informative and important post for me! My father has hypertension. Thanks for sharing the tips

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  6. Thanks a lot Valli. I hope your father is taking all the precautions.
    Do keep coming.

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