On 17 May, we celebrate World Hypertension Day (WHD), a day dedicated to highlighting the importance of monitoring blood pressure and bringing global awareness to over 1 billion people living with high blood pressure worldwide.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), blood pressure is the force exerted by circulating blood against the walls of the body’s arteries, the major blood vessels in the body. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is when blood pressure is too high.
Hypertension or high blood pressure occurs when the blood pressure rises to an unhealthy level. The disease is very common and develops over a course of years. Narrow arteries cause more resistance and increase blood pressure. This force can cause damage to blood vessels, and lead to heart attack, brain stroke, kidney damage, or nerve damage.
Blood pressure is written as two numbers. The first (systolic) number represents the pressure in blood vessels when the heart contracts or beats. The second (diastolic) number represents the pressure in the vessels when the heart rests between beats. Hypertension is defined as a systolic blood pressure consistently above 140 mm Hg and/or diastolic blood pressure consistently above 90 mm Hg. It is considered to have touched a dangerous level when the blood pressure measurement goes over 180/120.
Around 1.13 billion people around the globe live with hypertension which is a major cause of cardiovascular disease and premature death worldwide. However, only 1 people in 5 have it in control while others still face the risk of developing complications from it. The incidences of hypertension have seen a sharp rise across the world and while earlier it was common in the older age groups, now we get to see many new cases of young people with hypertension.
High blood pressure is called a silent killer not without a reason. Most of the time, there are no noticeable signs of hypertension and even if you have some symptoms, you may not immediately act upon it dismissing it as routine tiredness, work pressure or exertion. High-stress levels, obesity, poor dietary habits, and a sedentary lifestyle are some of the major causes of hypertension in young people. Prolonged hypertension also puts a person at a higher risk of several medical conditions like chronic kidney disease, stroke, heart failure and others.
The theme of WHD for 2022 is Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer. It focuses on combating low awareness rates worldwide, especially in low to middle-income areas, and accurate blood pressure measurement methods.
WHD was first inaugurated in May 2005, and ever since it has become an annual event. The main purpose behind the celebration of the WHD is to promote public awareness of hypertension and to encourage citizens of all countries to prevent and control this silent killer, the modern epidemic.
The day focuses on creating effective communication about the importance of raising awareness on the early diagnosis of high blood pressure and avoiding complications of advanced stage complications.
There are some factors that cause hypertension that we cannot control, which include age and a family history of hypertension. However, leading a healthy life may prevent hypertension.