World Hypertension Day

Arterial hypertension (HT) is one of the leading causes of premature death in the world, affecting an estimated 1.13 billion people worldwide. It has a high prevalence in Spain, affecting 35% of adults and reaching 70% in those over 60 years of age, which means that there are 10 million adults with HT in our country.

There is a high level of knowledge about this disease and its treatment, but less than 40% of patients have their HT under control. This is alarming because HTN is a serious condition that has been shown to significantly increase the risk of heart disease, encephalopathy, nephropathy, and other diseases.

To raise awareness of this reality, World Hypertension Day is observed on May 17th to educate the public about optimal blood pressure levels and recommendations for preventing and controlling hypertension.

Blood pressure (BP) is the force exerted by circulating blood against the walls of the arteries. This force is generated by the heartbeat, which pushes blood out of the heart and through the arteries. The optimal blood pressure numbers are 120 mmHg (maximum or systolic) and 80 mmHg (minimum or diastolic). When blood pressure is too high, it is called arterial hypertension. Hypertension is considered to exist when the systolic blood pressure is greater than or equal to 140 mmHg or when the diastolic blood pressure is greater than or equal to 90 mmHg.

Risk Factors for Hypertension

Modifiable risk factors.

  • Inadequate diet: high salt intake, diet rich in saturated fats, diet poor in fruits and vegetables.
  • Sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Overweight and obesity
  • High stress levels

Non-modifiable risk factors.

  • Genetic history of hypertension
  • Age: >55 years in men and >65 years in women.
  • Gender: cardiovascular risk is higher in men.
  • Hormonal changes: the onset of menstruation can increase blood pressure.
  • The presence of other pathologies (diabetes, nephropathies).

Since this disease is not usually accompanied by warning signs or symptoms, hypertensive patients are often unaware that they have hypertension. Only when the blood pressure is very high can symptoms such as headache, body heat, nosebleeds, irregular heartbeat and, in more extreme cases, fatigue, confusion and anxiety be noticed. Prolonged high blood pressure causes different symptoms depending on the organ affected and the degree of involvement. For all these reasons, it is important to know what our blood pressure is. Here are some tips to help you measure your blood pressure.

Tips for measuring blood pressure

  • Do not smoke or consume stimulating drinks (coffee or alcohol) 30 minutes before the test.
  • Be calm and do not rush.
  • Sit with your back against the back of the chair, with your legs touching the floor and not crossed.
  • The hand of the arm we are going to measure should be relaxed, without squeezing and in a resting position, more or less at the level of the heart.
  • Take the measurement after a resting period of about 10 minutes.
  • It is recommended to measure three times and to take the average. A single blood pressure reading is not sufficient to diagnose hypertension. 

Treatment of HT is based on lifestyle changes, diet, exercise, and medication. Both pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment have been shown to be essential in reducing cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Here are some tips to help lower your blood pressure.

Tips to reduce hypertension:

  • Lose weight.
  • Reduce salt intake.
  • Reduce consumption of saturated fats.
  • Get moderate physical activity. Walk at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Increase consumption of fruits and vegetables.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Reduce alcohol consumption.
  • Get the necessary hours of sleep.
  • Practice activities that promote relaxation.