Pandemic stress in Japan Photograph:( Reuters )
While we have finally started addressing mental health problems resulting from anxiety and stress, it’s time we also acknowledge and spread awareness about hypertension, especially today on account of World Hypertension Day
For most of us, this pandemic is the most stressful time of our life. There is stress resulting from the grief of losing a loved one and by the fear of losing a near one. Stress from trying to stay safe and from adjusting to the constantly-changing new normal is also stirring trouble.
High stress levels can be fatal. Stress can lead to high blood pressure or what's known as hypertension. And prolonged hypertension can lead to severe medical conditions.
So, while we have finally started addressing mental health problems resulting from anxiety and stress, it’s time we also acknowledge and spread awareness about hypertension, especially today on account of World Hypertension Day.
What is hypertension?
It is when the force of blood against your artery walls becomes high enough for it to result in health problems. Uncontrolled hypertension can result in heart attack or stroke and it can also narrow the blood vessels in your kidney, preventing them from functioning normally.
Hypertension can also lead to thickening or narrowing of blood vessels in the eyes - resulting in loss of vision. It can affect your memory and also lead to dementia. 1.3 billion people worldwide have hypertension. The Mayo Clinic says most people with high blood pressure do not show symptoms even when their blood pressure reaches dangerous levels.
Some people, however, have headaches, shortness of breath or nose-bleeding. There are two types of hypertension. Each has its own causes.
First, there is primary hypertension which develops over time and has no specific causes.
Most people who have hypertension fall under the primary category. It is sometime linked to genes, lifestyle choices, poor diet, or physical changes like obesity or ageing.
Secondary hypertension can be caused by sleep apnea, problems with thyroid, a kidney disease, alcohol abuse and side effect of medications. Secondary hypertension is more severe than the first one. The WHO says hypertension is a major cause of premature deaths worldwide.
The good news is, hypertension can be treated by reducing mental stress, making little changes in our diets and by regularly checking our blood pressure and consulting our doctors. You can reduce the risk of hypertension by making small changes like adhering to the “Dash” diet.
Dash stands for dietary approaches to stop hypertension like consuming whole grains, fresh vegetables, low-fat dairy products, reducing your alcohol intake, or exercising regularly. The pandemic is really stressful but hypertension can result in Covid complications.
So while we come to terms with prolonged online learning, long hours of working from home, additional caregiving responsibilities, it is important that we keep our stress levels at check. Do things at home that make you happy. Take time out, cook your favourite meal, read a book and as they say - don't stress over things you can't change!