#Hypertension hits the #youth

High blood pressure is now affecting even those in their 20s. Health experts suggest ways in which youngsters can combat this…!


Gone are the days when health problems like high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, only affected those in their middle and old age. Thanks to a fast-paced life characterised by sedentary jobs, lack of exercise and unhealthy eating and lifestyle — coupled with loads of stress — even youngsters are now falling prey to it.

Case studies:
Example 1: Sahil Mishra (name changed), a 28-year-old call centre employee, often complained of uneasiness and lack of sleep. Night shifts at work, tobacco-chewing and smoking worsened it further. Finally, the problem was diagnosed — hypertension.

Example 2: Namit Joshi (name changed), a 25-year-old businessman, had never exercised until he joined a cardiac rehab. In May 2012, he weighed 149.5 kg. His current weight is 122 kg. His earlier blood pressure readings ranged from 140-150/80 mm Hg. After weight loss, however, it’s improved — it’s now in the range of 130 -140/ 70-80 mm Hg.

Young and suffering
Health experts say an increasing number of people in their 20s are now suffering from hypertension. “We see a lot of people in the 25-28 age group having hypertension. They usually have idiopathic hypertension or Essential HT, which is also known as Primary Hypertension. It has no known causes,” says interventional cardiologist Dr Rajeev Bhagwat.

Men at higher risk
Unlike smoking and alcohol, which affect women more adversely than men, the tables seem to have turned in the case of hypertension. Dr Bhagwat explains, “Men are more prone to hypertension. In women, the hormone Oestrogen acts as a natural shield.”

Blame it on poor lifestyle
A blood pressure reading less than 120 and over 80 is considered normal for those who are 18 and above. While hypertension is hereditary for some, there are also cases where it’s purely lifestyle-related. People who smoke or drink alcohol in large quantities are at risk. Those with a nine-to-five desk job have higher chances of being prone to hypertension, says preventive cardiology and rehabilitation expert Dr Ashish Contractor.

Fierce competition and intense pressure are mainly responsible for hypertension among the youth. An unhealthy lifestyle leads to obesity, which triggers sleep-related problems — mainly sleep apnoea. The sleep disorder causes inappropriate secretion of cortisol which in turn leads to hypertension, says consultant sleep surgeon Dr Ashim Desai.

When it comes to treating lifestyle diseases, exercise and healthy diet play a big role. But there are also other factors to be kept in mind. Dr Desai says, “Meditation and regular de-stressing, along with weight control, helps battle hypertension. Sleep disturbance should be treated immediately. Good sleeping habits will normalise blood pressure and lead to a healthy heart.” In extremely rare cases, hypertension is caused by severe blockages in the arteries. This can be treated through angioplasty.

The most well-known approach has been salt or sodium restriction. But it doesn’t stop here. Clinical nutritionist Ishi Khosla says, “Management of high blood pressure also involves many more nutrients and an adequate intake of potassium, calcium, fibre, phytochemicals and omega-3 fats. Calcium is needed for contraction and relaxation of heart muscles, thereby making it essential for fighting hypertension.” Khosla advises a diet low in glycemic index carbohydrates. These include whole grains, legumes, pulses, low-fat dairy, nuts like almonds and seeds. Almonds are a good source of calcium, folic acid, magnesium, Vitamin E and other powerful antioxidants. This helps prevent heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

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