Watch out for the silent killer

Last Updated 23 July 2010, 10:52 IST

High blood pressure and diabetes are termed ‘silent killers’ because both conditions can exist without noticeable symptoms while they continue to damage vital organs such as the eyes, brain, heart and kidneys.

Blood pressure helps the circulation of oxygen and nutrients through the blood stream. A consistent rise in blood pressure over the normal limit is defined as high blood pressure. At present, BP of 120/80 mm of HG is considered normal. During each heartbeat, BP varies between a maximum (systolic) and a minimum (diastolic) pressure. Both are important limits.


There are no identifiable causes of high blood pressure within the majority of the adult population. However, there are many risk factors that can lead to the development of high blood pressure, like tobacco usage, sedentary lifestyle, painkiller abuse, alcohol abuse, weight gain etc.

Primary HBP is usually controlled over a span of a few years. Secondary HBP is controlled by treating the underlying disease. For example, problems related to kidneys, lungs, blood etc.


In some people, high blood pressure can be determined through symptoms such as dizziness, giddiness, vomiting, chest discomfort, breathlessness, easy fatigue and excessive sweating while others suffer a stroke, heart attack or kidney failure.


For the initial diagnosis of HBP, blood sugar, serum lipid profile, creatinine, urea, potassium and complete blood counts, calcium level and abdominal ultrasound charts are required. Once the person has been diagnosed with HBP, periodic (yearly/half-yearly) blood sugar, creatinine, urine tests and lipid profile tests must be conducted to monitor blood pressure levels.


The non-drug method includes lifestyle changes,  a low salt diet, exercise and abstinence from alcohol and tobacco.

Drug therapy: Drugs such as beta blockers (Atenolol, Metoprolol), calcium channel blockers (Amlodipine, Nifedipine), diuretics (Hydrochlorothiazide, Frusemide), ACE inhibitors (Enalapril, Ramipril), ARB agents (Losartan,Telsartan), centrally acting drugs (Clonidine, Alpha methyl dopa)  are used to control high blood pressure. Each class of drugs has its own merits and side effects and must be prescribed by a doctor based on age and the existence of other diseases. A periodic check-up is a must for those with high blood pressure to avoid serious health complications.

(Published 23 July 2010, 10:52 IST)

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