THE World Health Day today (April 7) focuses on high blood pressure. This medical problem is on the rise in Africa, Asia, Europe and Australia. Globally 40.6 per cent males and 35.8 per cent females above the age of 25 are suffering from high blood pressure. According to the data available, one billion plus are living with high blood pressure. Out of these, 9.4 million die an untimely death in Southeast Asia, one in three has blood pressure and 1.5 million die every year as a result of this.

For example, in India in 1960 high blood pressure was five per cent and in 1990 it went up to 12 per cent and in 2008 it affected 32 per cent of the population. Indonesia and Pakistan have also a similar trend.

Blood pressure is created by force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels (arteries) as it circulates through the body. High blood pressure or hypertension is a condition in which blood vessels have persistently raised pressure. Blood pressure is written as two numbers measured in millimetres of mercury-mm Hg, e.g. 120/80mmHg.

The first systolic number represents the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart beats. The second diastolic number represts the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart rest between the beats.

Hypertension is defined as systolic blood pressure equal to or above 140 mm Hg and /or diastolic blood pressure equal to or above 9mm Hg. How can you prevent and control high blood pressure

High blood pressure is largely preventable by adopting lifestyle modifications. Below is the list of action:

Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. Reduce salt intake to less than 5gm or one teaspoon a day. Do at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Maintain health weight: body mass index (BMI) between 20 and 25. Avoid tobacco use. Avoid alcohol intake. Manage stress positively.

Last but not least, check blood pressure regularly. Get treated for high blood pressure Prevent and manage other medical conditions like diabetes.

Some light exercises plus walking in parks and gardens, and avoiding junk, spicy and high sodium foods.

PROF. HUSSAIN BUX KOLACHI Chairperson Department of Community Medicine Dow International Medical College, Karachi

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