Smoking, skipping exercise could trigger hypertension

Smoking, skipping exercise could trigger hypertension

Positive lifestyle changes can help patients get back on track, say experts. Sunday is World Hypertension Day

In the last decade, hypertension cases have increased by many folds, thanks to changing lifestyle. Many in their 30s and 40s have blood pressure issues now.

The stress brought on by the the lockdown can trigger these issues as well. World Hypertension Day is on May 17. Medical experts say watching one’s diet and making conscious lifestyle changes is the way ahead.

Dr Rajpal Singh, director-interventional cardiology, Fortis Hospitals says that almost 40 percent of the city’s population has hypertension.

Hypertension was rare among people in their 20s and 30s in the past, with it accounting for a maximum of 5 per cent of total cases then. “Almost 3 out of 10 people in younger age groups (below 30 years) have hypertension now. Most cases are asymptomatic and are detected during a health checkup or when one is opting for insurance,” he says.

Bad lifestyle choices and habits and stress can increase the risk of hypertension, he adds.

“With the lockdown, the amount of time spent on exercise has reduced. The number of hours spent in front of the TV or on Netflix has increased. Smoking habits have hiked smoking. Anxiety of losing jobs and salary cuts, which leads to comfort eating, all adds to the risk,” he says.

Dr Rajpal receives 2 to 3 calls per day during the lockdown from hypertensive patients. “Most of us are not used to being restricted to an area, especially the younger and middle-aged people who are in the process of building their careers and planning their lives,” he says.

Can these issues have lasting effects? He says, “While no studies suggest a lasting effect, positive lifestyle changes and consuming prescribed medicines regularly should help get one back on track.”

Genetic factors and other associated factors like diabetes could also lead to hypertension.

Dr S Guruprasad, consultant, interventional cardiologist, BGS Gleneagles Global Hospital, says that around 50 percent of hypertension cases could be rooted to unhealthy lifestyle and lack of exercise, smoking and stress.

“Smoking affects all functions of the body. Nicotine can have effects at the cellular level. There is a lining of blood vessels called endothelium, which naturally produces some muscle relaxants, and nicotine affects the production of these blood vessel relaxants,” he says.

Important Notes

Roshni Prakash K, a dietician and wellness coach, says that there are some rules for people with hypertension — less or no salt, no smoking, regular exercise and staying consciously away from anxiety-causing situations.

She details, “Switch from oily and salty snacks to fruit and vegetable choices, salads, nuts immediately. Move as much as you can. Make the conscious decision to walk when on a phone call or take the steps. Drink three to four litres of water daily to stay hydrated and healthy, and avoid consumption of alcohol and caffeine.”