5 myths about high blood pressure that you should immediately forget

electrocardiogram, ecg, heartbeat

High blood pressure or hypertension is a very common condition that brings a number of health risks. According to estimates by the World Health Organization, 1.13 billion people in the world suffer from hypertension, and Croatia occupies the undesirable first place with the highest percentage of adult healthy men suffering from high blood pressure. Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary and Slovenia are among us on this infamous scale.

In Croatia, even 40% of men have high blood pressure. Women in Croatia are doing relatively well (25%), but we are still far from the most advanced European countries.

Due to the absence of clear symptoms, many are not even aware of their elevated blood pressure, which in the long term significantly increases the risk of developing a number of diseases associated with this condition.

In this article, we will list and dispel the 5 most common myths that we hear almost every day about high blood pressure:

Myth 1: High blood pressure is not a dangerous condition
Hypertension can be a very serious condition. Without treatment, high blood pressure can increase the risk of a number of health problems, including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, heart failure, angina, vision loss, sexual dysfunction, and peripheral artery disease.
Hypertension causes health damage in several ways. For example, over time, increased arterial pressure can cause blood vessels to become less elastic. In turn, this reduces the amount of blood and oxygen reaching the heart, thereby damaging that organ.
High blood pressure can also damage the brain's delicate blood vessels, increasing the risk of stroke.
Myth 2: If you have high blood pressure in your family, there is nothing you can do to prevent it
According to research, hypertension has a genetic component. For example, the authors of a 2017 study that included data from three generations of participants concluded: “Early-onset hypertension in grandparents increases the risk of hypertension in grandchildren” (Niiranen et al.)
However, hypertension is not inevitable, even for those who are genetically susceptible to it. Often the condition develops due to lifestyle, such as diet, which is not influenced by genes.
The authors of a 2018 study that analyzed the genetic, lifestyle and health data of 277,005 people concluded:
“A healthy lifestyle (including a healthy diet, limited alcohol consumption, low urinary sodium excretion, low body mass index [BMI], and increased physical activity) has been shown to be associated with lower blood pressure regardless of genetic risk for high blood pressure. ” (Pazoki et al.)
They also found that “a healthy lifestyle is associated with a lower risk of myocardial infarction, stroke, and complex cardiovascular disease at all levels of genetic risk for high blood pressure.”srce

Myth 3: High blood pressure is inevitable with age
Hypertension is not inevitable and is not a normal part of aging. Although hypertension is more common among older adults, high blood pressure also occurs in middle-aged and younger adults.

Hypertension affects about 7.5% of people aged 18 to 39, 33.2% of people aged 40 to 59 and 63.1% of people over 60.

Despite this increasing prevalence with age, certain lifestyle interventions can significantly reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure. These include reducing salt intake, exercising regularly, quitting smoking and eating a healthy diet.

Myth 4: High blood pressure is curable
There is no cure for high blood pressure. However, there are ways to keep the condition under control and reduce the harmful impact of the condition on health:

Reduce your alcohol intake
Eat a healthy balanced diet
Exercise regularly
Learn to deal with stress
Stop smoking
Maintain a healthy body weight
Take prescribed medication

Myth 5: I don't use salt, so I don't have to worry about sodium levels
The World Health Organization states in its recommendations that the daily consumption of salt should not exceed 5 grams, in order to maintain healthy blood pressure. According to estimates, 2.5 million deaths per year could be prevented if, on a global level, salt consumption was lowered below the recommended value!
However, just avoiding the addition of salt is not a sufficient strategy in reducing the intake of this spice. Get used to reading the declarations, you will be surprised how much salt is found in some very common and daily consumed foods.
According to the US Center for Disease Prevention and Control, as much as 40% of daily salt intake comes from the following 10 foods:
cold cuts and dried meat products
burritos and tacos
salty snacks, such as chips, popcorn, pretzels and crackers
Ultra-processed food is especially rich in salt. Consumption of these foods – which include soft drinks, chocolate, chips, sweets, sweetened breakfast cereals and packaged soups – can also play a role in the development of other health conditions.
For example, one study (Fiolet et al.) that included data from more than 100,000 people found that a 10% increase in the proportion of ultra-processed foods in the diet was associated with a significant increase of more than 10% in the risk of total cancer and breast cancer.
Hypertension or elevated blood pressure is a frequent and serious condition that can be a lifelong condition that must be kept under control with lifestyle and medication in order to avoid all the harmful consequences that ignoring it can mean for health.srce

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