Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Hypertension: Importance of diagnosis and self-management

Unidentified high blood pressure, and lack of self-management heighten the risk of complications associated with hypertension, says Dr. S. Palekar

Published: Dec 17, 2019 01:21:59 PM IST
Updated: Dec 17, 2019 06:18:31 PM IST

Hypertension: Importance of diagnosis and self-management
Self-Management of hypertension
Hypertension, which is among the most common chronic diseases in adults, is a major cause of stroke, heart disease, and renal failure. About one billion people live with hypertension worldwide, many of whom do not control their blood pressure well, despite the fact that lowering BP lessens the risk of renal and cardiovascular disease. One of the most effective ways of coping with hypertension is through self-management, making patients more responsible for their own care. 

Effective self-management of hypertension consists of self-monitoring blood pressure; identifying the warning signs, initiating lifestyle changes; maintaining regular contact with the health care provider. Studies suggest that self-management of hypertension in nonclinical settings is superior to traditional in-clinic hypertension management, and can improve medication adherence, self-efficacy, self-rated health, cognitive symptom management, frequency of aerobic exercise, and depression. Collaboration with the healthcare provider can improve the patient’s ability and confidence for self-management, to yield even greater improvements in BP control.

The burden of undiagnosed hypertension
As per reports from the World Health Organization, hypertension is the third biggest risk factor for heart disease in India. Data from National Family Health Survey suggest that in India about 9 per cent women and 14 per cent men falling in the age bracket of 15-49 years suffer from hypertension. Despite the identified burden of hypertension, majority of hypertensive patients still remain undetected. Reportedly, for every known person with hypertension there are two persons with either undiagnosed hypertension or prehypertension.

Though, an individual with hypertension remains unaware until the condition is diagnosed, he/she will be posed to increasing risk of the complications. If left untreated, hypertension can cause damage to the cardiovascular system and other internal organs. Thus, it is of utmost importance that the factors that predispose to the risk of hypertension be controlled. Sedentary lifestyle, wrong food choices and lack of physical activity along with persistent exposure to stress are the major factors that increase the vulnerability to hypertension and thus need to be improved.

Being attentive towards certain symptoms associated with high blood pressure, including sweating, anxiety, sleeping problems and blushing can also be helpful. It is imperative that once the diagnosis of hypertension has been made, the antihypertensive therapy be started at the earliest to prevent any further complications.

Disclaimer: The views, suggestions and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Forbes India journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.