Why high BP is affecting the young?

Hypertension is agrowing problem among younger people.

IT may be a silent problem, but there are enough studies to prove that it's on the rise: A Harvard School of Medicine study says that 900 million people in developing countries have high blood pressure( BP) but only a third of them are aware about it. " Young adults and children have joined middle aged people in the high blood pressure category," says Dr JPS Sawhney, chairperson, department of cardiology, Sir Gangaram hospital.

In fact, while BP levels are dropping in most countries, they are rising in India. While this can be attributed largely to genetics, an unhealthy lifestyle and other conditions can also lead to rising blood pressure.

Unhealthy eating with too much consumption of fast food, gymming mindlessly for those perfect abs, inadequate sleep, smoking and drinking alcohol are some of the major reasons for this rise in BP among younger people," says Dr Sawhney.

BP also affects those suffering from kidney diseases, endocrine disorders, diabetes and other problems. Studies say that while BP levels are dropping in most countries, this not the case in India.

According to estimates, high BP affects more than 20 per cent Indians above the age of 40 years. " There is also a sharp rise the number of youngsters with the problem especially in the age group of 15- 25. Food habits, working hours, sleeplessness, lack of physical activities, family history, high stress levels, obesity and lack of exercise are to blame," says Dr Sawhney.

Mind plays a role
SAY BP and the first thing that strikes is that our heart and blood vessels are involved.What most of us don't know is that our brain has an important role to play, which is why many young people with perfectly healthy heart and sound blood vessels suffer from hypertension.High BP is caused when the brain sends the wrong messages to certain nerves linked to the kidneys. These signals trigger hormone release from the kidney, constricting blood vessels and resulting in a surge of BP, which has many consequences.

It can lead to many illnesses such as heart attack and stroke. Genetics apart, smoking, alcohol and high cholesterol are the major triggers for hypertension.If uncontrolled, it can lead to hypertension crisis, a situation which can lead to temporary stroke, bleeding in eyes and heart failure.

Susceptible groups
Increasing cases of persistent hypertension in young pregnant women is worrying experts too. " While pregnant women are prone to hypertension, these days, about 30 per cent of them continue to have it even after their delivery. Some of them don't even keep track of their escalating BP and learn about it only during their second pregnancy," says Dr Sawhney.

These women don't take it seriously too. This can lead to health complications in them later . The desire for a six pack dream literally leading to high BP in many young men. " A lot of young men in the age group of 15- 25 end up having high BP because their wrong gymming habits and excessive intake of protein supplements. The link is clear and definite as in both the cases they end up stressing their body and pumping up the adrenaline levels," says Dr Sawhney.

Options for treatment
BP IS becoming more of a lifestyle triggered problem and lifestyle modifications are just as important as medicines in treating it," says Dr Sanjay Manchanda, senior consultant, department of sleep medicine, Sir Gangaram Hospital.Treatment starts with lifestyle measures such as cutting back on salt. This is because the sodium in salt is known to retain water in your body, a mechanism created to prevent dehydration.

Apart from cutting down on salt, one has to include potassium in the diet too by eating plenty of beans and fruits and also cut cholesterol levels. Get your dose of magnesium by eating plenty of greens and nuts. You should also cut back on chewing or smoking tobacco, which is one of the worst risk factors. Also, one should minimise alcohol intake and go for regular exercises.

While research is still ongoing on the cure for high BP, presently medications are the most common treatment options for high BP and the most common medicines include diuretics, the angiotensin converting enzyme ( ACE) inhibitors, Angiotensin- Receptor blockers ( ARBS) and Calcium Channel Blockers ( CCBS). There are newer treatments in the offing.

Radiowave treatment:
Zapping that troubling nerve with radio waves is a technique, which could soon be used in people whose hypertension fails to respond to drugs. This new therapy holds hope as it involves disruption of the hyperactive nerves leading to the kidney. It is done by using a long narrow tube which is passed upto the kidneys through an artery in the leg. Then low power radio frequency signals are applied to the arteries that supply blood to the kidney, deactivating the nerves around them.

A particular type of hypertension caused by excess hormonal activity by the adrenal glands can be cured by surgery. When only one of the two adrenal glands is overactive, it can be safely removed, curing the condition. This technique brought out by Brisbane researchers though depends on complex diagnostic processes.

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