Health News

Chronic stress has been hypothesised as potential risk factor for hypertension

As per data from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study of 2016, hypertension was the reason for 1.63 million deaths in India.

(Written by Gunjit Dinesh Madra)

Hypertension, also known as the ‘silent killer’, can have pernicious effects on human health. Exposure to chronic stress has been hypothesized as a potential risk factor– and occupational stress has been studied extensively. As per data from the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study of 2016, hypertension was the reason for 1.63 million deaths in India.

Furthermore, it also attributed more than half of the mortalities due to ischaemic heart disease (54.2 per cent), stroke (56.2 per cent) and chronic kidney disease (54.5 per cent) to high systolic BP. Professor Dr Vipin Koushal of PGIMER’s department of Hospital Administration says, “With the average individual more invested in work than on any other activity, it is vital that employees within the organisational framework feel connected and supported by peers, subordinates and leaders. Healthy connections and interactions provide positive energy which may foster overall growth for individuals and organisations alike.”

Professor Dr Sonu Goel of PGIMER’s department of Community Medicine and School of Public Health emohasised on prioritising efficiently and said that there is a fine line between important work and urgent work. More often than not we give primacy to urgent chores, which not only is a breeding ground for mental pressure, but also creates impediments for the important work which actually needs our attention. “An individual’s energy is finite, therefore, investing it right by prioritising astutely is of essence.” Regular physical activity and a healthy, balanced diet play a pivotal role in controlling blood pressure.

Health experts recommend the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. The diet is simple, involves eating more fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy foods and cut back on foods which are high in saturated fats, cholesterol and trans fats.

Reflecting upon the causes of stress may also help one manage and mitigate it, say doctors, adding that seeking help, taking out time to relax and pursuing activities or hobbies that bring one joy are also important. People suffering from hypertension seldom notice any symptoms and may even be unaware of the problem, even as it causes serious damage to their body. If left untreated, high blood pressure may lead to serious problems, such as, impairment in sight, persistent chest pain (angina), heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and heart failure, among others, all of which can be highly fatal.

(The writer is an intern with the Strategic Institute For Public Health Education under the aegis of the Department of Community Medicine, PGIMER)

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