Health Statistics Canada indicates that approximately 17% of all Canadians are living with hypertension (high blood pressure). This translates to 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women aged 20 to 79 were found to have hypertension, with the rate increasing by age,” says Dr. Frans Leenen, University of Ottawa Heart Institute and the study’s principal investigator. “Among those aged 60 to 79 years, for example, 52% were hypertensive.” As documented, there is a growing concern amongst young adults between the ages of 20-35 with higher blood pressure than compared to preceding years. Normal blood pressure is averaged at 120/80 mmHg. According to The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation and Treatment of High Blood Pressure, if people can reduce their blood pressure by 5 mmHg there would be a 14% overall reduction in stroke mortality, 9% reduction in death caused by heart disease and a 7% decrease in mortality. There are several health risks that are associated with having high blood pressure, some you may be predisposed to and the others are a matter of making different health choices:
What are the factors that you can control?
- Excessive alcohol intake
- A diet of fatty foods and increased salt
- Smoking and Tabaco use
- Sleep apnea
What are factors that you can’t control?
- People with a family history of high blood pressure
What are the symptoms of high blood pressure (hypertension)? Most people with high blood pressure will not experience any symptoms until levels reach about 180/110 mmHg. When symptoms do appear, they typically include:
- Headache – usually, this will last for several days.
- Nausea – a sensation of unease and discomfort in the stomach with an urge to vomit.
- Vomiting – less common than just nausea.
- Dizziness – Lightheadedness, unsteadiness, and vertigo.
- Blurred or double vision (diplopia).
- Epistaxis – nosebleeds.
- Palpitations – disagreeable sensations of irregular and/or forceful beating of the heart.
- Dyspnea – breathlessness, shortness of breath.
- Anybody who experiences these symptoms should see their doctor immediately.
Complications associated with high blood pressure include heart disease, kidney (renal) disease, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis or arteriosclerosis), eye damage, and stroke (brain damage).
There are two ways of managing high blood pressure; drug therapy or lifestyle changes. There are antihypertensive drugs that are commonly used to treat hypertension, but they do have several known side effects that may not be desirable. Adopting a new healthy lifestyle seems to be the best way of preventing hypertension. Listed below are a few recommendations of how you can make some health improvements:
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Decrease sodium in-takes (2300 mg a day or less)
- Increase physical activity (150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise)
- No alcohol consumption or use in moderation
- Increase the intake of fruits and vegetables (recommended 7 to 10 servings a day)