21 July 2024

Untreated high BP is a serious health risk, warns a local GP


Dr Partho Roy

Are you over 40 years of age? If yes, when was the last time you got your blood pressure checked? As a GP, I won’t be surprised if majority of you in this age bracket answer as “never”!

In the absence of having blood pressure (BP)measured, some of you may be suffering from hypertension – medical term for high blood pressure without knowing.

Hypertension is a condition that occurs when your BP increases to unhealthy levels, and requires treatment to control it.

The reason why doctors take hypertension seriously is as this affects up to one in five adults in New Zealand. It is a major cause of premature death worldwide and as World Health Federation (WHF) stats indicate, nearly 1.3 billion people worldwide have hypertension and less than 1 in 5 have this under control.

Cases of hypertension are rising because of an aging population, change in lifestyles such as increasing consumption of fast and processed foods, and lack of physical activity.

Hypertension is often called the ‘silent killer’ because it doesn’t have any symptoms like a fever or cough and remains undiagnosed until measured. It is estimated 46% of adults with hypertension worldwide are unaware they have it.

This silence can be deadly as it significantly increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and other diseases.

According to the Stroke Foundation NZ, a person with high blood pressure is up to seven times more likely to have a stroke. Moreover, nearly 62% of Kiwis admitted to hospital with a heart attack have high BP (Heart FoundationNZ).

High BP has serious health risks & doesn’t have any specific cause (Courtesy/WHF)

Maintaining a healthy blood pressure is, in fact, your best defence. Untreated hypertension is a serious medical condition and longer the time and higher the BP, greater is the risk.

BP is the measure of the ‘force’ (or pressure) of blood pushing against your artery walls when heart pumps blood around your body. Increase in BP is produced when arteries become narrower or stiffer forcing your heart to pump harder.

Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mm Hg), using a monitor. BP reading has two figures, one ‘over’ the other – for example, 140/80. Higher figure (systolic level) is a measure of the pressure when your heart is pumping blood out, and lower figure (diastolic level) when heart is resting between heartbeats.

When do we say you have high BP? According to World Heart Foundation, you have a high BP if your pressure is equal to or greater than 140 over 90 mmHg. BP levels around 130/80 and under is considered normal.

A one-off high BP reading is not an indication of hypertension as pressure varies throughout the day depending upon your state of mind(anxious, stressed),or physical activity.

BP is represented by numbers (Courtesy/WHF)

Your doctor will diagnose you to have hypertension if your BP remains high for three separate readings, on three separate occasions and usually over a three-month period.

In most cases (approx. 95%) there isn’t a specific reason for high BP. This is usually referred to as “essential” or primary hypertension. Most people develop it because of their diet, lifestyle or medical condition.

You might be more at risk if you are, for example, over 65 years of age; have someone in family with high BP; smoke cigarettes or drink excessive alcohol; eat too much salt and not enough fruits/veges; lack of adequate exercise, are overweight or stressed.Read More...

Editor’s Note: The above article is for information purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional for any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.


One comment;

  1. I myself didn’t realise its serious repercussions-or that I was suffering from hypertension until I went for a minor surgery at hospital & was found in preliminary check-up. I’m on medication now & I believe my food habits were behind this.

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