By: Dr. Varsha Dalal (Consultant Pathologist at Lifeline Laboratory)
When was the last time you checked out the sodium content of the biscuits that accompany your morning /evening tea. Everybody is very careful about the sugar/carbohydrate content of the processed foods available in the market due to the high prevalence and awareness of diabetes but sodium levels take a back seat. And that’s the reason why a new silent killer is taking the centre stage now.
Hypertension has become one of the most prevalent lifestyle diseases in the present century. The incidence in India is as high as one out of every three adults. And majority of the affected people are not even aware making the scenario rather gloomy. Hypertension or high blood pressure is about to become an epidemic in the country unless people know about this disease and take active steps to prevent and treat it.
This disease occurs when the pressure of blood in our vessels is higher than what it can stand. Values above 140 systolic and 90 diastolic pressure fall into the disease category. Initially it stays quiet, but cumulative effect over a long period of time starts affecting the kidney, brain, heart and lungs. Hypertension is broadly classified into two types- primary (90%) and secondary (10%). The primary form occurs solely because of our lifestyle and genetic make-up, while the secondary form arises due to chronic illness like kidney or endocrine disorder.
It is very important to know the causes of any disease to be able to prevent it. With the kind of lifestyle our present generation is living, unless dealt with actively; hypertension will takes its toll. Stress, altered sleeping habits, eating processed foods high in salt content like chips, biscuits, pickles etc., sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise are some of the important factors that play a role.
In order to prevent the blood pressure from rising, we need to rise and change our lifestyle to begin with. First and foremost step is checking our weight. Higher amounts of fat in the body tend to accumulate in the blood vessels and make them inflexible, thus contributing to the raise in pressure. Because of similar reasons, eating a balanced diet is quintessential. It should comprise fruits, vegetables and good amount of water other than the regulated carbohydrate, fat and protein intake. Reducing the salt/sodium content in home cooked foods as well as avoiding processed foods is also required. Cutting on tobacco and alcohol intake also strengthens the circulatory system of our body. A special attention needs to be paid to the first year of life as it lays the foundation of our future health and diseases. It is recommended that infants should not be given salt or sugar until the age of 1 and should preferably be given breast milk over formula or cow milk to keep their system healthy.
The role of exercise has been talked about since ages, and its contribution in keeping diseases away keeps on increasing. Regularity and consistency in daily work outs helps in maintaining the pressure. Last but not the least, is the hidden factor which needs to be dealt with seriously. Chronic stress at work or home plays its role in a million ways to disturb our health. So, stay happy, eat healthy and workout regularly to gift yourself and your family a salubrious life.
For more information www.lifelinelaboratory.com