Hypertension - FAQs   

Hypertension - FAQs

Hypertension (high blood pressure) is fast becoming a frighteningly common ailment among adults, with an estimated 1 in 5 individuals battling the condition. Part of the problem is that hypertension often escapes our notice initially, paving the way for cardiovascular disease to quietly set in.

What are the symptoms of hypertension?
Hypertension typically presents without any hallmark symptoms. At most, headache, dizziness or lethargy is sometimes observed, but these can often be very vague and non-specific. This lack of obvious signs and symptoms is why hypertension is dubbed a 'silent killer'.

What are the risk factors for hypertension?
The major risk factors for hypertension include:
• Age. Your risk of hypertension increases as you get older.
• Family history. Hypertension tends to run in families.
• Being overweight or obese.
• Physical inactivity.
• Smoking. Smoking damages the arteries, increasing the likelihood of high blood pressure.
• Certain chronic conditions. Chronic diseases such as diabetes and kidney disease are linked to hypertension.

What are the complications of hypertension?
Uncontrolled hypertension can lead to life-threatening cardiovascular complications. These include heart attack, heart failure and stroke.
What are the non-drug approaches to treat hypertension?
Several lifestyle adjustments can help lower your blood pressure numbers.

These include:
• Weight reduction. Even dropping just 4.5 kg can significantly improve your blood pressure.
• Healthy eating. Salt intake should be reduced to less than 6g a day, while alcohol consumption should be reduced to no more than 10 pints of beer per week for men, or 7 pints for women.
• Regular exercise. 30-60 minutes of moderate exercise, three times a week, can make a difference. But be careful not to over-exert yourself.
• Quitting smoking.

Which is the best pharmacological option for me?
To help manage your hypertension, your doctor will first assess your state of health, blood pressure levels, risk factors and co-existing health conditions to determine the most appropriate drug(s) for you.

For instance, ARBs are typically chosen for better tolerability, ACE inhibitors for cardiovascular and renal protection, and CCBs for first-line therapy in those over 55. In patients with diabetes, ACE inhibitors are recommended.

Combination therapy is also common practice; for example, patients with uncontrolled blood pressure and at high risk of cardiovascular complications may be prescribed a combination of an ACE inhibitor and amlodipine (a CCB).

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