World Heart Day 2023: The 'silent killer'-know dangers of undiagnosed hypertension/high blood pressure
World Heart Day 2023: On the occasion of World Heart Day let us know how undiagnosed hypertension, or high blood pressure, can cause serious problems. High BP significantly threatens heart and overall well-being, operating stealthily and causing damage without noticeable symptoms.
Hypertension, often referred to as the "silent killer," is a condition that frequently shows no outward symptoms. It is characterized by high blood pressure, measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). Blood pressure readings are presented as two numbers: systolic pressure (the top number) indicates pressure during heartbeats, while diastolic pressure (the bottom number) represents pressure during the heart's resting phases.
Undiagnosed hypertension occurs when elevated blood pressure goes unnoticed due to the absence of regular blood pressure checks or medical evaluations. Its silent nature often means individuals are unaware of their high blood pressure until complications arise.
Uncovering the Silent Threat - Undiagnosed Hypertension
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, operates stealthily, often without obvious signs. It involves persistently elevated blood pressure levels, measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). Blood pressure readings comprise two numbers: systolic pressure (the top number) signifies pressure during heartbeats, and diastolic pressure (the bottom number) represents pressure during the heart's resting periods.
Undiagnosed hypertension occurs when high blood pressure remains undetected due to a lack of regular blood pressure measurements or medical evaluations. Its asymptomatic nature often results in individuals being unaware of their heightened blood pressure until complications manifest.
The Hazards of Undiagnosed Hypertension on Cardiac Health
• Escalated Risk of Heart Disease: Undetected hypertension substantially amplifies the risk of heart-related conditions such as coronary artery disease, heart attacks, heart failure, and irregular heart rhythms. The strain it imposes on the heart and arteries leads to progressive damage.
• Arterial and Vascular Impairment: High blood pressure damages arterial walls, reducing their flexibility and making them susceptible to plaque accumulation (atherosclerosis). This constriction of arteries restricts blood flow, potentially resulting in strokes or heart attacks.
• Renal Impairment: Hypertension can adversely affect the kidneys by impacting their blood vessels. Over time, this can culminate in kidney disease or failure, exacerbating cardiovascular complications.
• Hypertensive Crisis: Individuals with severe undiagnosed hypertension might experience a hypertensive crisis—a sudden and severe surge in blood pressure. This can manifest as severe headaches, shortness of breath, and chest pain, and may lead to organ damage or failure.
• Silent Impairment: As the name implies, undiagnosed hypertension often remains asymptomatic, causing harm to vital organs without obvious signs. This cumulative damage can significantly affect heart health and other critical organs.
Prevention and Management
• Regular Blood Pressure Monitoring: Consistent blood pressure checks are vital for early hypertension detection. Individuals, especially those with risk factors like obesity, sedentary lifestyles, poor diet, or a family history of hypertension, should monitor their blood pressure regularly.
• Healthy Lifestyle Modifications: Adopting a healthy lifestyle can prevent and manage hypertension. This includes a balanced diet, regular physical activity, moderating alcohol intake, avoiding tobacco, and employing stress management techniques.
• Medication and Professional Oversight: If diagnosed with hypertension, appropriate medication and medical supervision are essential to regulate blood pressure levels and mitigate the risk of heart-related complications.
Undiagnosed hypertension significantly threatens heart health and overall well-being, operating stealthily and causing damage without noticeable symptoms. Raising awareness about the dangers of high blood pressure, promoting regular blood pressure checks, and advocating a healthy lifestyle are critical in mitigating this silent yet perilous public health threat.
Creating awareness about the perils of high blood pressure and advocating for regular blood pressure assessments are pivotal steps in countering this hidden public health threat. Encouraging a healthy lifestyle, incorporating balanced nutrition, regular physical activity, stress management, and abstaining from harmful habits like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can significantly mitigate the risk of hypertension.
Early detection and appropriate medical management, including necessary medications and professional guidance, are crucial elements in controlling blood pressure levels and reducing the potential for heart-related complications. By embracing these preventative measures, we can unveil and confront the silent threat of undiagnosed hypertension, ultimately saving lives and improving countless individuals' overall quality of life.
- Dr Aman Salwan Consultant Cardiologist CARE Hospitals Nampally Hyderabad