You Should Know This – Understanding The Silent Killer

Overview

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) is a common chronic condition which are often associated and causes other health issues such as cardiac disease. It’s onset can be insidious and afflicted patients might not be aware of their status until later on in life. However, an asymptomatic individual still has the same risks for developing further health problems, inclusive of heart attacks and stroke.

Symptoms

Hypertension is usually asymptomatic, even at extreme levels.

Patients reporting symptoms usually report headaches, shortness of breath, nose bleeds, and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). However, these symptoms are usually non-specific and patients with poorly controlled hypertension might not manifest any symptoms at all.

Blood pressure is often taken routinely during medical consults. If concerned, ask your doctor to check your blood pressure on your next visit.

If you are aged 40 years or older, or if you have a family history of hypertension, it is advisable to have your blood pressure checked as a routine.

Alternatively, there are automated blood pressure machines available for purchase over the counter for home monitoring.

Types of Hypertension

Primary (Essential) Hypertension

This refers to the group of adults with no identifiable cause for hypertension. It is usually insidious and develops gradually over many years.

Secondary Hypertension

This refers to the group where there are identifiable causes for hypertension. These causes can include:

  • Hormonal imbalances eg thyroid issues
  • Renal issues
  • Occult tumors of the adrenal gland
  • Congenital birth defects
  • Obstructive sleep apnoea
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Medication induced hypertension

Risk Factors

  • Age. Risk of hypertension increases around about age 45. It is more common in men than women though the risk profile for women approximates their male counterparts after menopause.
  • Race. It has been found that the patients of black origin have a higher tendency to develop hypertension.
  • Positive Family History of Hypertension. There is a genetic link for hypertension.
  • High Body mass Index (BMI) (Overweight / Obese Categories) Patients with a high BMI tend to develop hypertension compared to their thin counterparts.
  • Generalized Lethargy. Patients who tend to lead inactive lifestyles usually have higher heart rates and have higher BMIs, which in turn increases their risk for hypertension.
  • Smoking. Smoking causes a rise in blood pressure and in the long term, causes hardening and narrowing of blood vessels. This effect is also observed in passive second hand smokers.
  • Sodium (Table Salt) and Potassium Intake. Table salt, sodium chloride, when consumed in excessive amounts, causes retention of fluid within the body, in turn increasing blood pressure. Potassium, on the other hand, acts in opposition to sodium. Hence an excess of sodium or lack of potassium will both result in Blood Pressure fluctuations. .
  • Alcohol Intake. Alcohol causes global effects in the body. Excessive consumption of alcohol will cause Blood Pressure fluctuations.
  • Associated Chronic Conditions. Chronic renal failure, diabetes, sleep apnoea etc, and even chronic stress all contribute to hypertension.
  • Special Conditions. Pre-eclampsia, or Hypertension during Pregnancy, congenital defects, are examples of special conditions causing hypertension.

ComplicationsCardiac Effects:

  • Heart attacks – This is by far the most widely known complication of hypertension.
  • Cerebrovascular Accidents – Commonly known as strokes.
  • Aneurysms – Prolonged hypertension can cause weakening of arterial walls, causing arteries to bulge, forming aneurysms.
  • Cardiac failure – Defined as the inability of the heart to pump blood around the body consummerate to the required needs, cardiac failure is a consequence of prolonged, untreated hypertension. Prolonged hypertension causes thickening of cardiac muscle, resulting in uneven contractions that eventually result in cardiac failure.
  • Renal Failure – It is important to note that while renal failure can cause hypertension, hypertension in turn causes weakening of vessels within the kidneys, resulting renal failure.
  • Ophthalmological Complications – Damage to the tiny blood vessels within the eyeball can result in visual disturbances or even vision loss in severe cases.
  • Non-specific effects – It has been documented that patients with prolonged and untreated hypertension suffer more frequently from poorer mental function, memory loss, and non-specific groups of symptoms like the Metabolic Syndrome.

TreatmentIt is important to speak with your treating physician if you are concerned that you might have hypertension.

When seeing your physician, no special preparations are necessary though it is important that you maintain calm during the examination as anxiety can and will cause blood pressure readings to increase.

Be aware as well that the first consultation can potentially be long as there will be much to discuss prior to commencing medications to treat hypertension if present.

You should inform your physician of the following:

  • Any Symptoms you have experienced – eg shortness of breath, chest pain, tinnitus etc.
  • Your family history, especially if there is a family history of hypertension.
  • Your current medication regime.
  • Your current medical history, especially if you also have associated chronic illnesses like diabetes, thyroid abnormalities, and raised cholesterol levels.
  • Your current lifestyle in all honesty – This includes diet, exercise, alcohol consumption, smoking.
  • Your last Blood Pressure reading if available.

Your physician will measure your Blood Pressure and inform you of your Blood pressure reading.

  • Blood Pressure is described with two readings:
  • Systolic BP (Higher reading)
  • Diastolic BP (Lower reading)

There are many categories of hypertension in relation to the systolic and diastolic blood pressure because the definition of Blood Pressure varies with age and race. Your physician will decide after taking your blood pressure, likely after several readings on different occasions.In certain situations, your physician might recommend 24hr monitoring of blood pressure to provide a more accurate picture of your blood pressure fluctuations throughout the day. This means you will need to perform own home BP monitoring.

Additional tests your physician might order include:

  • Urine tests to check for protein in the urine
  • Blood tests to ascertain cholesterol levels
  • Electrocardiograms (ECGs)

Upon confirmation of the diagnoses, your physician will likely recommend lifestyle changes as the first line of treatment, followed by pharmaceutical treatment after.

The Amazing Avocado – Avocado Benefits for High Blood Pressure

Avocados are notably high in calories but are also highly regarded for their high content of monounsaturated fats and potassium thus making it one of the most beneficial foods for combating high blood pressure.

Blood pressure is the measure of the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. The heart pumps blood into the arteries, which is the transportation highway responsible for distributing blood throughout the body. Blood pressure comprises of two numbers: Systolic, the first and higher of the two reflects pressure in the arteries when the heart beats and they are filled with blood, diastolic, the second number, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rests between beats. A normal blood pressure reading varies from 90/60 at birth to 120/80 in a healthy adult. For seniors age 6o and older a reading of 150/90 is an indication of high blood pressure (hypertension). It’s important to note that a reading slightly higher than 120/80 in young adults indicates a risk of developing pre-hypertension.

Having untreated high blood pressure makes the heart work harder and contributes to hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). This in turn can lead to stroke, kidney disease, and to the development of heart disease. “Having high blood pressure puts you at risk of heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the United States. About 75 million American adults (32%) have high blood pressure-that’s 1 in every 3 adults. About 1 in 3 American adults has prehypertension” 1 A diet low in salt and high in vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy products can help lower blood pressure. Highly valued for its blood pressure combating properties within the fruit family is the Avocado (aka. alligator pear) a fruit of the avocado tree native to the Western hemisphere.

Avocados are reputed to be high in fats, but since they are a plant food, the fat they contain is therefore considered an oil and not a solid fat. However it’s important to note that the majority of fat (77%) in the fruit is oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. There is conclusive scientific evidence which points to the fact that diets rich in monounsaturated fats are great for improving your cholesterol and reducing inflammation thereby reducing the risks of heart problems and strokes. In fact “The American Heart Association recommends the consumption of MUFAs (monounsaturated fats) to improve your blood lipid profile.” “(Lipid profile or lipid panel is a panel of blood tests that serves as an initial broad medical screening tool for abnormalities in lipids, such as cholesterol and triglycerides.)” 2

Along with monounsaturated fats avocados are extremely rich in potassium (more so than bananas – Half a medium avocado contains 549 mg potassium, one medium banana provides 451 mg.). A diet rich in potassium helps regulate your heart beat, eases tension in your blood vessel walls, keeps muscles and nerves functioning efficiently, and lowers blood pressure by balancing out the effects of sodium on your system. The more potassium you eat, the more sodium is lost through urination. A high potassium diet can reduce systolic blood pressure 4.4 mm Hg and diastolic pressure 2.5 mm Hg.

To those who are averse to eating the avocado fruit the oil derived from it is a reliable alternative. A study done on lab animals and published by “Journal of Ethnopharmacology.” concluded that “a diet rich in avocado oils, altered levels of essential fatty acids in kidneys, resulting in changes in the way the kidneys respond to hormones that regulate blood pressure.” A tablespoon of avocado oil contains approximately 124 calories and 14 grams of fat (21 percent of the recommended daily fat intake), 9.9 of the 14 grams are monounsaturated healthy fat which lowers LDL ((Low Density Lipoprotein) ) cholesterol, while increasing HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) and 1.9 grams are polyunsaturated fat which lowers LDL and HDL. Avocados contain no cholesterol or trans-fat and are richer in vitamin E than any other fruit. The fats of the avocado are also resistant to heat-induced oxidation thus offering an excellent substitute for vegetable, canola oils and similar saturated or trans-fat products.

While extolling the health benefits of the avocado it is important to keep in mind that the fruit is high in calories (a cup of avocado slices contain approximately 234 calories) so the quantity being consumed must be taken into consideration. Also due to its high potassium content, persons with kidney related problems need to be extra careful in its use. Consult your healthcare professional to know if a diet supplemented with avocado is good for you.

Do You Know This – A Delicious Low Salt Recipe for Hypertension Patients!

High Blood Pressure Low Salt Recipes

SPROUTS KADHI

Preparation time 15 minutes

Cooking time 15 minutes

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 cup mixed sprouts (moong, chana, makai), cooked

1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)

1/4 tsp mustard seeds (rai/sarson)

2 bayleaves (tejpatta)

2 whole red chillies broken into pieces

1/8 tsp asafetida (hing)

1 tsp ginger-green chilli paste

½ tsp red chilli powder

¼ tsp turmeric powder (haldi)

2 cups low fat curds (dahi)

4 tsp besan (Bengal gram flour)

2 tsp oil

¼ tsp salt

Let’s check out the recipe for Sprouts Curry, a low salt dish for hypertension patients.

For this we need precooked mixed sprouts.

FOR THE KADHI (CURRY), we need curd which is nicely stirred.

FOR THE TEMPERING, we need bay leaves, dry red chillies and mustard seeds.

We need salt to taste, a teaspoon of coarsely grounded ginger and chilli.

We also need two pinches of asafetida and a little gram flour.

People often make ‘Kadhi’.

There is ‘Sindhi Kadhi’ and ‘Maharashtrian Kadhi’. In UP there are some different Kadhis.

But this particular Kadhi is meant especially for high blood pressure patients and uses sprouts very smartly. There are all sprouts in it.

First we will mix the gram flour and curd. Mix it nicely such that there are no lumps.

Add in a bit of water.

While adding water, keep in mind that you do not need to add a lot of water. Just add a little water and bring the mixture to a lumpy formation.

Then you can add some more water so as to prevent lumpy formation.

We are done.

TEMPERING:

Now we will heat some oil in a pan.

Add in some mustard seeds for the tempering.

We will add coarsely grounded green chillies and ginger paste once the mustard seeds start crackling.

Now add in bay leaves, red chillies and a bit of asafetida.

Asafetida has its distinct flavor but you have to be a little careful while adding it.

Asafetida will burn if you suddenly put it in the oil.

So we put all other ingredients and then add asafetida. That way, it won’t get burnt and you will find its taste as well.

Now we will add the mixture of curd and gram flour into the pan.

Add in some water to monitor the thickness of the mixture.

Upon cooking for some time, you can add in the sprouts.

Lots of sprouts! Wow!

Now let’s add in salt.

Add salt at the very end because we are using curd, green gram and after that we had added dry spices.

Then we added in the sprouts.

If we add salt to the curd, then it would’ve been insufficient for the sprouts.

That’s why we add all the ingredients and then add salt to taste.

You must keep in mind that this is a low salt recipe and a recipe which is being made for the people with high blood pressure. So you must use salt in a limited quantity.

Our ‘Sprouted Kadhi’ is ready.

Now we will serve it. It looks amazing.

When you serve, choose to keep the bay leaf and red chilli towards the top.

Sprouted Kadhi is now ready.

You will enjoy it even more if you serve it with roasted poppadom.