Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a serious medical condition that increases the risk of heart (arrhythmia), kidney, brain (dementia) and other diseases. It is a major cause of premature death and the main factor for a person to develop cardiovascular disease. A systolic pressure of less than 120 and a diastolic pressure of less than 80 is normal blood pressure for women and men. Therefore, normal / average blood pressure level is < 120/80 mmHg. World Hypertension Day is observed every year to promote hypertension prevention and raise awareness to detect & control blood pressure levels. The objective of this day is to convey to the people how to control blood pressure and the serious medical complications caused by it if it’s not detected and controlled in time.
Significance of World Hypertension Day
The World Hypertension League (WHL), a non-profit and non-governmental organisation, introduced the first World Hypertension Day on May 14, 2005. WHL has dedicated May 17 of every year to be recognized as World Hypertension Day. Member countries have since supported the idea and have been carrying out certain activities in their home countries to spread awareness of hypertension. Such activities include media coverage, rallies, newspaper articles, public forums, and involvement of popular public figures.
An estimated 1.3 billion adults aged between 30 and 79 years worldwide suffer from hypertension, among which most (two-thirds) live in the middle and low-income countries. Some facts you must consider are:
- 1 in 5 adults has their hypertension under control.
- Less than half of the population suffering from high blood pressure is diagnosed and treated.
- Around 50% of adults are not even aware that they suffer from hypertension, as there are no warning signs, thus giving it the name of “silent killer.”
Reasons Behind High Blood Pressure
Now that we have discussed what is blood pressure as well as the significance of World Hypertension Day, let’s discuss some common reasons behind the same. Inactive lifestyle, high-stress levels, poor dietary habits, and obesity are some of the reasons for elevated blood pressure levels in young people. A person has more risk of health problems related to the heart such as heart attack, heart disease, and stroke if they have a higher than average blood pressure level.
From surveys around the globe, it was found that very few people were aware of their blood pressure levels being poor. Even resource-rich countries like Canada, which are highly developed and have a high-quality health care system, had poor awareness of hypertension with only 58% of the population being aware.
A World Health Report from 2002 indicated that hypertension was the leading cause of death worldwide.
High blood pressure develops over time due to unhealthy life choices like eating junk food, not doing regular physical activity, living/working in a high-stress environment, etc. Certain health conditions such as being obese and suffering from diabetes can increase the risk of developing hypertension.
High BP can affect a person’s health in many ways. It can damage important organs like your brain, eyes, kidneys, and heart. However, in most cases, you can control your blood pressure levels to lower the risk of serious health-related problems.
Importance Amidst the Coronavirus
According to a Senior Cardiologist Dr. Santosh Kumar Dora, working at Asian Heart Institute in Mumbai, a body of research suggests that some people suffering from hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes may develop severe complications and symptoms once infected with Covid-19. “The pandemic is leading to an increased occurrence of high blood pressure among all age groups. This is happening due to lack of outdoor exercise because of frequent lockdowns, increased stress levels, and unhealthy dietary patterns,” he stated. Dr. Santosh added, “blood pressure needs to be checked regularly and if found elevated, efforts should be made to control it and bring it down to the normal range.”
The theme for each World Hypertension Day is selected by the World Hypertension League council and executive members to promote the objectives of WHD. This year’s theme as selected by the WHL is” Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer.”
There are several signs of high blood pressure that can be useful for a person to recognize in time and take preventive measures for the same. Hypertension symptoms may include:
- Irregular heart rhythms, nosebleeds, early morning headaches, buzzing in the ears, and vision changes.
- More severe High BP can cause nausea, vomiting, fatigue, anxiety, confusion, muscle tremors, difficulty in breathing, blood in urine, and chest pain.
The only way to properly detect high blood pressure is to have a health professional conduct a blood pressure test. Therefore, it is important to regularly measure blood pressure. Measuring BP is painless and happens quickly.
Ways to Lower Blood Pressure
There are a few ways to naturally lower your blood pressure without the use of medicines and medical procedures:
Regular exercise helps in maintaining a healthy body weight which ultimately helps to keep blood pressure in check. Strength training, flexibility exercises, and aerobics can help you in the long run.
2. Healthy Diet / DASH Diet
DASH refers to Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. Such a diet consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grain cereals, lean meat, fish, low-fat dairy products, and less salt. Also, avoid added sugar as well as trans and saturated fats in your diet.
3. Do Not Smoke
Even though smoking has not been proven to cause hypertension, each cigarette smoked can temporarily increase blood pressure for a while.
4. Stop Drinking
Consuming alcohol is known to raise blood pressure to considerably unhealthy levels. If you already suffer from high BP, avoid drinking or drink only in moderation.
World Hypertension Day (WHD), as initiated by the World Hypertension League (WHL), is making a huge impact in countries worldwide. More countries are joining this movement every year to promote awareness, control, and prevention of high blood pressure. Momentum picks up year after year. The World Hypertension League has an objective to reach the estimated 1.5 billion people affected by hypertension. WHD has been a success due to the voluntary action and enthusiasm of numerous stakeholders from every member country. Lifestyle Changes For Hypertension you should know more about it.
Frequently Asked Questions About World Hypertension Day
Q1. Why do we celebrate World Hypertension Day?
World Hypertension Day is observed with the aim to spread awareness about hypertension as well as the importance of keeping a track of blood pressure levels.
Q2. What is the theme of 2023’s World Hypertension Day?
The theme of World Hypertension Day 2023 is ‘measure your blood pressure, control it, live longer’.
Q3. How can one observe World Hypertension Day?
You can observe World Hypertension day by sensitising the people around you with awareness, prevention, detection, and control of high blood pressure.
Q4. When was World Hypertension Day first celebrated?
World Hypertension League, a non-profit and non-governmental organisation, decided to work on prevention as well as control of hypertension. The organisation established World Hypertension Day in the year 2005.