It applies to everyone: Why high blood pressure should be treated

EVERY FIFTH ADULT IN THE WORLD HAS ARTERIAL HYPERTENSION , and many do not even know about it. Arterial hypertension (which is often mistakenly called hypertension) may not have symptoms, and the myth that only older people complain of high blood pressure interferes with the diagnosis out of interest. Age does affect the incidence, but everyone can be at risk, regardless of the year of birth. We figure out where arterial hypertension comes from, how it threatens and how to prevent it.  

Where does it come from

In most cases, it is impossible to say unequivocally why arterial hypertension appeared. On the one hand, there is a genetic predisposition to it, on the other hand, lifestyle factors play the main role in its development. For example, due to excess weight and obesity, the heart has to give more blood to the body, and this increases the pressure on the vessels. Due to a passive lifestyle and lack of movement, an untrained heart cannot cope with the stress. Alcohol interferes with the work of the heart, and smoking temporarily constricts blood vessels and generally affects their condition.  

Stress also has a negative effect on blood vessels. An increase in blood pressure is a natural reaction to anxiety, and after worries, you must definitely rest and come back to normal, but this does not always work out. In addition, if stress causes you to overeat, smoke or relax with alcohol, then it attracts additional risk factors. Sometimes arterial hypertension develops due to other diseases : adrenal tumors, kidney disease, thyroid problems; it happens that high blood pressure is noted only during pregnancy. The pressure may rise even when breathing stops during sleep, as is often the case with snoring. 

It is believed that older people complain of high blood pressure – but this is more likely due to the fact that with age, concomitant diseases make themselves felt, according to the symptoms of which you can also notice arterial hypertension. Age is indeed a risk factor for this disease, and one of the main ones. But it is impossible to say exactly what age is considered dangerous. Different manuals talk about a span of 45 to 65 years. According to WHO, the risk increases sharply after 50 years, when the diagnosis of arterial hypertension can be established in every second person; between the ages of 25 and 50, one in ten has such a risk. This is a lot, especially considering the absence of any symptoms, which does not allow diagnosing the condition in time.   

How to spot it

It is often impossible to understand from how you feel that your blood pressure has increased. If the numbers are high, then a headache may occur, but the initial stages of hypertension usually go away without symptoms. Sometimes dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, nosebleeds appear – but it is not always clear what the reason is, because such manifestations can accompany the usual stress and fatigue. It is impossible to guess whether the pressure is a problem, the only reliable test is to measure it with a tonometer, but there are some nuances here.

Since blood pressure can also rise in healthy people, there are rules for measuring it – and they boil down to the elimination of any stimuli. Half an hour before the procedure, you can not drink anything invigorating, even tea, or smoke, because nicotine strongly narrows blood vessels and distorts the picture of the study. Before measuring, you need to calm down, sit for five minutes, do not talk and relax, without being distracted by the TV or phone screen. Of course, at a medical examination, when you need to go around a dozen offices, run around the floors and stand in line, and have time for everything before lunchtime, blood pressure measurements are unlikely to be reliable – especially if you are worried at the sight of a white coat.

Those who are at risk should visit a doctor at least once a year and check their blood pressure, but at the same time make sure that the rules for such measurement are followed. If at the reception it turns out that the indicators speak of a disease, it is worth buying a home tonometer. True, you should not get too carried away with measuring the pressure at home: this will not give the necessary information for the doctor, but it can lead to psychological dependence, the so-called neurosis of the obsessive measurement of pressure .  

How to treat and prevent

Arterial hypertension is treated, often without medication, but simply through lifestyle changes. If it is obvious which risk factors contributed to the development of the disease, then first of all it is necessary to eliminate them. Those who smoke should give up this habit, those who are obese should lose weight, those who exercise little should start exercising. The recommended diet is the usual principles of good nutrition: you can eat a lot of vegetables, you can not eat foods of unknown origin with trans fats and sugar in large quantities. The difficulty, perhaps, is only in limiting the amount of salt – no more than 2300 (or better not more than 1500) mg of sodium is allowed per day , that is, a teaspoon of salt. It is very easy to exceed this amount if you remember that almost all ready-made foods already contain salt.   

Unfortunately, this is not always enough: blood pressure can also increase in eating athletes. In such cases, special medications are prescribed to keep hypertension under control. Many of them need to be taken every day, for life – and this is another reason why the disease is still progressing, because not everyone understands the importance of constant medication. A very common mistake is to take pills only when the pressure rises, and when it has returned to normal, stop. In fact, they need to be taken continuously to keep blood pressure at a normal level, otherwise the hypertension will return. 

As for prevention, this is again the good old healthy lifestyle. It is worth everyone to move regularly, quit smoking and switch to a healthy diet, even without measuring blood pressure. A healthy lifestyle, no matter how boring it may seem, saves you from many risks. And if one of the relatives lives with arterial hypertension, then such a lifestyle becomes mandatory, there are no other options for prevention yet.

Prepare for the Worst: How I Survived a Stroke at 20 

ALTHOUGH HEART AND VASCULAR DISEASES ARE CONSIDERED A PROBLEM OF THE OLDER PEOPLE , they also occur at a young age, even in those who lead a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, people who have suffered a stroke – an acute violation of the cerebral circulation – or myocardial infarction in their youth, often face mistrust or even accusations of drug or doping use: many do not believe that the disease can occur “just like that.” We talked with Anastasia Martynova about how her life changed after a stroke at the age of twenty.     

I am twenty-three years old, and I work as an executive assistant, I run two projects in parallel: I sublet real estate in the United States and I send Russian models to work abroad. My husband and I left St. Petersburg six months ago and have been traveling non-stop ever since. Now we are going to spend the winter in Sochi – it is warm there, but my relationship with the cold is not very good. I am cheerful and talkative – at first glance, it is impossible to say that two years ago doctors confidently predicted the rest of my life in a wheelchair.

I was an active teenager: from the age of sixteen I studied wushu and walked for two or three hours a day. In Saratov, where I come from, this is the only way to move in a predictable way, there are always some difficulties with transport. Like everyone else, I could afford to drink with friends once a month, but there were no bad habits like smoking or drugs. My mother is a doctor, so the whole family was always thoroughly examined, everyone knew about their peculiarities and chronic diseases.

The fact that I might have serious health problems was out of the question until June 2015. Then I just moved to St. Petersburg to my future husband. He and a friend and I were having breakfast one morning, discussing the alluring benefits of living in a big city. Suddenly my head started spinning, and I, not suspecting anything, decided to lie down. When I sat up in bed and looked in the mirror, what was happening seemed like a terrible dream: my right eye looked somewhere to the side, and the image doubled. The husband immediately called an ambulance. Fifteen minutes later I could no longer walk, as if some inner “level” had broken and the whole world turned 45 degrees. It even reassured me a little – I remember that in Oliver Sachs’s favorite book, The Man Who Mistaken His Wife for a Hat, there was a whole chapter about this syndrome – which means that it is at least familiar to medicine.

By the time the ambulance arrived, the left half of the body was taken away, and not as if I had served it, but as if the brain had simply forgotten about it – as if there had never been a second arm and leg. Upon arrival at the hospital, hallucinations began. There was a funny case: during the examination, I noticed that the oriental pattern on the doctor’s shawl was moving, which I hurried to report. The doctor became very worried and fussed, because she was not wearing any shawl. After that, I lost consciousness and came into it only a couple of times during the evening, hallucinating and mistaking the nurses who came to deliver IVs for my husband. This is not the most typical picture for a stroke, so the doctors threw up their hands and said: “We do not know what is wrong with you. We will do our best, but prepare for the worst. “

Oddly enough, the diagnosis of stroke – acute cerebrovascular accident – became a relief for the whole family: at first, doctors tended towards multiple sclerosis or acute neuroinfection. With this choice, the stroke sounded like a gift. The diagnosis was made for a long time and painfully: it took two weeks to find out what happened to me, a bunch of tests, about five MRI scans and the efforts of a dozen doctors. By the way, doctors are a different story: each new specialist says that I can’t have any stroke. Until now, half of the time spent by any specialist in the near-neurological profile is spent on showing MRI images and trying to convince them of the correct diagnosis (not always, however, successful). As it turns out, doctors don’t tend to trust their colleagues. Although they can also be understood, because the cause of the stroke has not been found. The most plausible version seems to be a blood clot that clogged a vessel in the brain and then disappeared. As a result, they came to her for lack of anything better. There is not a single clue: I am still an absolutely healthy person, only with a scar inside my head. Nevertheless, the doctors figured out that I had a stroke, they did everything they needed on time, and the recovery went by leaps and bounds. Within a day I regained consciousness, after two I could stand on my own feet, after three – walk a couple of meters. Strabismus and double vision persisted the longest – they had to endure for a week. After the prospect of spending the rest of my life in a wheelchair, double vision did not scare me very much, and in my free time from procedures, I picked up a cute pirate eye patch in the Carnival section of ASOS. Fortunately, she was not needed: vision was fully restored. The most difficult thing was to survive a couple of months when it was impossible to get out of bed and walk; any load led to a terrible headache. However, I remember this period only in fits and starts: memory after a stroke has noticeably deteriorated.

Now it is difficult for me to walk for several hours a day and strong emotional or physical stress (for example, CrossFit) is contraindicated for me. It became more difficult to speak, sometimes I remember the right words for a long time. Sometimes ocular migraine appears – this is a temporary loss of part of the visual field. She scared only the first couple of times, now I know that this is a sign – you need to rest. Perhaps, it got worse with some complex social scrolling, and sometimes I can seem rude to people. The humor has become more childish and primitive, but this is more a plus than a minus: it turns out that many people like jokes about poop, but everyone is afraid to admit it. 

local_offerevent_note August 5, 2021

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