High Blood Pressure: “Why is my BP high even when I am fit?” Experts answer why fit and healthy people suffer from high blood pressure |

High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of premature deaths in India. High blood pressure or hypertension can sit silently for years without showing any visible sign. In fact as per official statistics, one in eight Indians suffer from hypertension. As per WHO, only about 12% people with hypertension in India have their BP under control. Uncontrolled blood pressure is one of the main risk factors for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) such as heart attacks and stroke, responsible for 1/3rd of the total deaths in India.We have heard of so many celebrities in their 30s and 40s succumbing to heart attacks in recent past – all of them fit and active. Just today, 41-year-old BB14 contestant Sonali Phogat succumbed to heart attacks.
Why high blood pressure is called the ‘Silent killer
Dr Ankur Phatarpekar, Director Cath Lab and Interventional Cardiologist, Symbiosis Hospital, Mumbai shares, “Stanford researchers found one-third of the high school, college and professional athletes who were screened by the Stanford sports cardiology clinic register, had high blood pressure. These people are young and fit, with exercise habits that put the rest of us to shame. Some people develop headaches when their blood pressure rises into dangerous territory, but in others, hypertension can go undetected until it causes a lethal heart attack. Fortunately, it is easy and painless to measure blood pressure.” Adding to it, Dr. Vishal Saxena – Director, Nephrology & Renal Transplant, BLK-Max Super Specialty Hospital says, “High BP often goes undiagnosed in people who are normally young, do not undergo annual health check ups, have a hectic lifestyle, lack of exercise and lack of sleep. These patients then land into hospital with breathing difficulties, high BP or accelerated hypertension or cardiac ailments.”
Why do fit and active people have high blood pressure?
There are a lot of factors that come into play when it comes to hypertension, for example, genetics, body composition and diet. There are almost always multiple factors at work. Some of these causes can’t be prevented, like genetics and age. High blood pressure often runs in families. Genetic risk is complex, probably resulting from a combination of harmful mutations in risk genes and silencing of protective genes. “There is nothing we can do to change our genetics, just as we can’t stop aging. With aging comes a universal increase in systolic blood pressure (the top number) and in the risk for heart disease. On the other hand, tackling modifiable risk factors for high blood pressure, for example, losing weight and getting more exercise, often produces great benefits. So if you learn you have high blood pressure, the most important response is to accept the diagnosis. Hypertension can’t remedy itself; your commitment is the first step toward great blood pressure control,” explains Dr Ankur.
Dr Saxena shares, “In my practice, I see young hypertensive and also elderly patients with multiple comorbidities. Males are more common to have high BP as compared to females in younger age groups unless and until they have any comorbidities.
Read more: Warning signs of heart attack that may be misunderstood as indigestion
Regular testing is key
Doctors recommend blood pressure and sugar monitoring for everyone. Other than that ECG, ECHO, CBC, KFT, LFT, Lipid profile, Fasting Blood Sugar, Urine Routine and eye examination are important.
Cardiac screening tests are once a year or once in 2 years after the age 40 in the general population or after the age of 30 in the high risk population.
Very few people with high blood pressure show signs like headaches, shortness of breath or nosebleeds, but these symptoms are not specific and usually occur only when the blood pressure has reached severe levels.
How to know if your lifestyle is really good?
Dietitian Shivani Kandwal, Nutritionist, Diabetes Educator, Founder of Nutrivibes shares, “In the age of fitness fads and new trends, it is hard to distinguish a healthy lifestyle from a poor one, as the new fads might not be as healthy as they appear . The appealing short term gains might contribute to the long term deficiencies and diseases and overall compromised health, far from our anticipation. Here are things you should keep in mind when it comes to your diet and lifestyle
Avoid high salt diets
Too much sodium in the diet can lead to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. It can also cause calcium losses, some of which may be pulled from bone. Most Indians consume at least 1.5 teaspoons of salt per day, or about 3400 mg of sodium, which contains far more than our bodies need. Over time, excessive salt intake can lead to high blood pressure (hypertension), which stiffens and narrows the blood vessels. Cutting down on salt is one of the simplest ways to lower your blood pressure, and will start to make a difference very quickly, even within weeks.
Avoid refined oil and reuse cooked oil
Street food cooked in black, smoked oil which is used and reheated throughout the day can increase the level of LDL or bad cholesterol in the body. High levels of LDL cholesterol can increase risks of heart disease, stroke and chest pain. Avoid reusing cooking oil to avoid cholesterol-related problems. In addition a commonly used oil in our homes is Refined oil which is the processed form of natural oil, obtained after treating natural oils with numerous chemicals to fulfill the consumer’s expectations such as odor-free and flavor-free oil along with a long shelf life and has many Regular consumption of refined oil may lead to cancer, Diabetes Mellitus (DM), gastrointestinal disease, atherosclerosis, obesity, reproductive issues, and immune dysfunction. Some of the healthy alternatives to refined oil include Olive oil, Virgin coconut oil, Flax-seed oil, Cold-pressed oils.
Stay wary of fitness fads
While the keto diet is linked to weight loss and other health benefits in the short term, it may lead to nutrient deficiencies, digestive issues, poor bone health, and other problems over time. Due to these risks, individuals with kidney disease, diabetes, heart or bone ailments, or other medical conditions should speak to their healthcare provider before trying the keto diet, and for other people a balanced diet is a safer, healthier option for long term sustainable changes.
Don’t consume excess protein
Despite the fact that short-term high protein diet could be necessary in several pathological conditions (malnutrition, sarcopenia, etc.), it is evident that “too much of a good thing” in diet could be useless or even harmful for healthy individuals. Many adults or even adolescents (especially athletes or body builders) self-prescribe protein supplements and overlook the risks of using them, mainly due to misguided beliefs in their performance-enhancing abilities. Individuals who follow these diets are therefore at risk. Extra protein is not used efficiently by the body and may impose a metabolic burden on the bones, kidneys, and liver. Moreover, high-protein/high-meat diets may also be associated with increased risk for coronary heart disease due to intakes of saturated fat and cholesterol or even cancer.
Learn to unwind
Owing to the hustle culture, we often ignore the body signals about requirements of rest. An overheated engine can never be as efficient as one which is oiled regularly and taken care of. Working out while you’re sick increases the risk of dehydration and can make your condition worse.
FAQs

  1. What is blood pressure?
    In your BP reading, the first number (systolic blood pressure) tells how much pressure your blood is putting against your artery walls when your heart beats. The second number (called the diastolic blood pressure) tells how much pressure your blood is putting on your artery walls during the resting period between beats.
  2. What is high blood pressure?
    Ideal blood pressure readings are supposed to be less than 120/80 mm Hg. However if you have consistently read more than this, it means you are in hypertensive stage.
  3. Why is high blood pressure called a ‘silent killer’?
    High blood pressure is often known as a ‘silent killer’ because it usually may show no symptoms. It puts you at an increased risk of heart disease, heart failure, and stroke among other health problems.
  4. What is normal blood pressure?
    Blood pressure that has a systolic pressure of less than 120 and a diastolic pressure of less than 80 is said to be normal.

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