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News Article

Prevention, Lifestyle Changes Needed to Fight Hypertension

By Miriam Bello | Mon, 05/17/2021 - 15:11

This year’s World Hypertension Day focuses on combating low awareness rates worldwide especially in low to middle income areas as the disease remains the world's leading preventable cause of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Hypertension can damage arteries and increase the risk of disease in different organs, the INSP describes. Increasing blood pressure on primary organ vessels, such as heart, kidney and brain, risks causing irreversible damage. The higher the pressure is, the higher the risks. According to WHO, the concrete consequences of this condition are heart attack, heart enlargement and eventually heart failure. Blood vessels can develop bulges (aneurysms) and weak areas that make them more susceptible to becoming blocked and ruptured. High blood pressure can also cause blood to leak into the brain and lead to a stroke. Hypertension can also lead to kidney failure, blindness and cognitive decline.

Globally, hypertension is very common and a major public health issue. Moreover, its prevalence is expected to increase considerably in the coming years. In 2000, the estimated number of adults living with high blood pressure globally was 972 million.

Hypertension in Mexico

According to a survey by INSP and the Ministry of Health, one in four adults in Mexico suffers from arterial hypertension, of which approximately 40 percent are unaware they have this condition. Moreover, of those who are aware of the diagnosis, only 50 percent have controlled it. In men the prevalence is 24.9 percent and in women 26.1 percent, reports the INSP. In Mexico, prevalence of the disease was estimated at 30 percent according to the 140/90 mm Hg criterion but new guidelines from the American Heart Association could cause that percentage to double.

What causes hypertension? Mediplus enlists the following:

  • The amount of water and salt in the body
  • The state of the kidneys, nervous system or blood vessels
  • Hormone levels

Some groups are at a higher risk including people with obesity, constant high levels stress or anxiety, high consumption of alcohol and cigarettes, high consumption of salt, family history of high blood pressure or diabetes.

According to the International Society of Hypertension, lifestyle changes are critical to reduce high blood pressure. To manage hypertension, the society suggests

  • Losing weight if overweight
  • Eating more polyunsaturated fats
  • Reducing salt intake
  • Regular exercise
  • Reduce alcohol and cigarettes intake
  • Manage stress and anxiety

Hypertension in a pandemic

People with high blood pressure are a vulnerable group in the COVID-19 pandemic, as the SARS-CoV-2 virus connects to cell receptors (Angiotensin Converting Enzyme Type 2) responsible for regulating blood pressure to infect cells. In people with hypertension, the enzyme could alter its structure or number, making it easier for the virus to cause a more serious infection.

The COVID-19 vaccine as proven to be safe and effective in people with hypertension. There is also no evidence that hypertension treatment worsens COVID-19, said the American College of Cardiology.

Miriam Bello Miriam Bello Journalist and Industry Analyst