By Najeeb Karimi, Family Practice
CMC Cabarrus Family Medicine
5435 Prosperity Church Rd #2200
How is Hypertension Defined?
Normal blood pressure is measured with a systolic readin of <120 mmHg and a diastolic reading of <80 mmHg (in layman’s terms that means your BP monitor should read below 120/80). When the reading goes between 120 and 139 mmHg for systolic or the diastolic reads between 80 and 89 mmHg then it’s in what’s called a prehypertension range which means that you’re at risk and should look into management to prevent hypertension.
Hypertension is broken down into two stages; the first has a systolic reading of 140–159 mmHg or a diastolic of 90-99 mmHg. Stage 2 is worse with more than 160 mmHg systolic and greater than 100 mmHg diastolic. Consult your physician if you believe that you are in stage 1 and 2 hypertension for proper treatment.
What are Some of the Primary Risk Factors for Primary Hypertension?
Although the exact cause is unknown, risk factors associated in the development of hypertension (HTN) include: advanced age, obesity, family history of HTN, ethnicity (African Americans have a far greater risk of hypertension), high-sodium diet, physical inactivity (being still for long periods of time), diabetes and high cholesterol also increase risk of HTN along with vitamin D deficiency. Hypertension may also be more common among those with certain personality traits, such as hostile attitudes, time urgency, stress and depression.
Secondary or Contributing Causes of Hypertension
There are a number of medical conditions and medications which may increase blood pressure and lead to secondary hypertension. These include but are not limited to: Oral birth control pills, antidepressants, glucocorticoids, decongestants, weight loss medications, stimulants including methylphenidate and amphetamines, kidney diseases, sleep apnea (snoring), illicit drugs such as cocaine, Cushing syndrome, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and hyperparathyroidism may also induce hypertension. Make sure you inform any physician or pharmacist if you already have issues with hypertension before receiving new medication.
There is also a risk of hypertension during pregnancy which can put both mother and child at risk, it is very important to consult with your OBGYN regarding this form of hypertension.
What are the Complications of Hypertension?
Hypertension causes your entire circulatory system to exhaust itself as it is working harder. It puts strain on the blood vessels and the heart and can lead to major medical issues. HTN can cause enlarged left ventricles; a condition which is associated with a higher incidence of subsequent heart failure, myocardial infarction, sudden death and it is the most common risk factor for stroke and intra-cerebral hemorrhage. HTN is a leading risk factor for ischemic heart disease and heart attacks and is also a factor for chronic kidney disease and failure.
What Lifestyle Changes Can Help Control Blood Pressure?
When you have prehypertension, lifestyle changes may control the blood pressure adequately. However, in those with either stage 1 and stage 2, or additional risk (eg. diabetes or chronic kidney disease), drug therapies should first be used to more quickly and effectively control the blood pressure. Once blood pressure is well controlled, lifestyle changes should be strongly advised. If these are successfully achieved, reduction or elimination of medications may be possible. (Always consult your physician regarding medication, do not reduce or eliminate medication on your own)
- Moderate salt restriction studies have shown a decrease in blood pressure in hypertensive and normal blood pressure individuals (4.8/2.5 and 1.9/1.1 mmHg, respectively).
- Weight loss is an important part of controlling Blood pressure. Overweight or obese individuals can see a significant fall in blood pressure independent of exercise. (generally about 1 mmHg for every pound lost)
- DASH diet – Short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, involves a high intake of vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products, whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts while cutting back in sweets, sugar-sweetened beverages, and red meats. The DASH dietary pattern is consequently rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium, protein, and fiber, but low in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol.
- Exercise – Exercising 45 minutes a day incorporating aerobic exercise and possibly resistance training can decrease systolic and diastolic pressure by, on average, 4 to 6 mmHg and 3 mmHg, respectively, independent of weight loss.
- Alcohol: Islam Prohibits drinking alcohol, but for those who have non-Muslim family members, let them know that studies recommend restricting alcohol, which helps to control high blood pressure. Along with alcohol, kick smoking for even more benefit.
- Take potassium and fish oil supplements and eat fish that are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids such as mackerel, tuna, salmon, sturgeon, mullet, bluefish, anchovy, sardines, herring, trout, and menhaden.
- Increase more fibers such as whole grains, fruits and vegetable and take in protein from vegetable or dairy sources.
By controlling your blood pressure, you can reduce your risk of heart failure by nearly 50%, enjoy a 30–40% reduction in stroke risk and a 20–25% reduction of risk for heart attacks.
Make an effort to start 2015 with simple daily changes for better overall health so that you can more easily focus on a full life enjoying Allah’s blessings.