Hypertension during pregnancy can be detrimental to mother and baby: HCFI

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Awareness must be raised on preventive measures during and after pregnancy

New Delhi, 17th May 2019: National studies show that prevalence of hypertension among the Indian urban middle-class men and women is 32% and 30%, respectively. Factors such as family history, age, gender, diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, obesity, alcohol consumption, smoking, physical inactivity, and stress increase the risk. Despite this, not many people are aware of the condition or do not take preventive measures at an early stage.

Research indicates that women with high blood pressure, especially during pregnancy, are at a two-fold risk of heart failure post-delivery. The need of the hour is to monitor women before discharge and after giving birth, through the postpartum period.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Hypertension during pregnancy can be detrimental to both the mother and the baby. Women with high blood pressure can develop resistance in their blood vessels. This hampers the flow of blood throughout the body including the placenta and uterus leading to problems with fetal growth. It can also cause premature detachment of the placenta from the uterus, disruption in the flow of oxygen to the placenta leading to delayed fetal growth, or in worst cases even stillbirth. If not closely monitored before, during, and after childbirth, it may become a major cause of heart problems including heart failure in such women. Some other fatal repercussions of high blood pressure include pre-term birth, seizures, or even death of the mother and the baby.”

Heart failure, or peripartum cardiomyopathy, can occur up to five months after giving birth. Some symptoms of this condition include tiredness, shortness of breath, swollen ankles, swollen neck veins and feeling of missed heartbeats or palpitations.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “It is imperative for women diagnosed with hypertension to remain hospitalized for some time. Although the damage caused by peripartum cardiomyopathy to the heart is irreversible, it can still function with the help of some medications and treatment. In severe cases, a heart transplant may be recommended. Women must take steps to bring blood pressure under control from the time they wish to conceive, through certain lifestyle changes.”

Drugs such as beta-blockers can help reduce blood pressure. Diuretics are another class of drugs that help lower blood pressure by removing excess water and salt from the body. Some other treatment options include coronary artery bypass surgery and implantable cardioverter defibrillators.

Some tips to control and prevent high blood pressure from HCFI

  • Monitor your blood pressure before, during, and after pregnancy. Consume less salt as a high intake can raise blood pressure.
  • Be physically active even during pregnancy. Sedentary women are likely to gain more weight than required, which can increase the risk of hypertension.
  • Make sure you are not taking medication that can raise blood pressure levels. If you already have high blood pressure, talk to your doctor about the steps that need to be followed.
  • Get regular prenatal checkups.
  • Tobacco and alcohol are not safe during pregnancy and must be avoided.

Both active and passive smoking are major risk factors for hypertension: HCFI

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High blood pressure can lead to several health complications and even premature death

New Delhi, 15th May 2019: Recent research has suggested that passive smoking at home or work is linked with a 13% increased risk of hypertension. Living with a smoker after age 20 may be associated with a 15% greater risk. Exposure to passive smoking can lead to hypertension over time with men and women equally affected.

High blood pressure accounts for almost 10 million deaths around the world. The need of the hour is to raise awareness on the fact that smoking is a leading risk factor for this condition and therefore, it is imperative to quit the habit at the earliest. There is a need to stay away from secondhand smoke, and not just reduce exposure, to prevent hypertension.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Smoking can raise blood pressure by as much as 10 mmHg especially in susceptible individuals. The effect is most prominent with the first cigarette of the day in habitual smokers. High blood pressure imposes an up-front burden in people who know they have it and who are working to control it. Apart from adding to health woes, it alters what you eat and how active you are, since lifestyle changes are important in keeping blood pressure under check. Some people need medication and may need to take one or more pills a day, which can prove costly. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to heart attack or stroke, aneurysm, heart failure, organ malfunction, vision loss, metabolic syndrome and memory problems.”

Hypertension is defined as a repeatedly elevated blood pressure exceeding 140/90 mmHg. It generally doesn’t cause any outward signs or symptoms but silently damages blood vessels, and other organs.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “It is recommend for everyone to get an annual checkup after the age of 30 even in the absence of a no family history of hypertension, diabetes or heart disease.

The old saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ holds true today more than ever. To live above the age of 80, one needs to maintain ideal health parameters and lead an ideal lifestyle. The HCFI Formula of 80 describes certain preventive measures that can be undertaken.

  • Keep your lower BP, fasting sugar, waist circumference, resting heart rate and low- density lipoprotein LDL or the ‘bad’ cholesterol levels all <80.
  • Walk 80 minutes a day; brisk walk 80 minutes a week with a speed of 80 (at least) steps per minute.
  • Keep kidney and lung function more than 80%.
  • Eat less; not more than 80 g/80 mL of caloric food in one meal. Do not eat refined carbohydrates 80 days in a year.
  • Take vitamin D through sunlight 80 days in a year.
  • Do not drink alcohol and if you drink, take less than 80 mL of whiskey (80 proof 40% alcohol) in a day or less than 80 g (240 mL) of whiskey in a week.
  • Do 80 cycles of Pranayama in a day with a speed of 4 breaths/minute.
  • Do not smoke or be ready for heart surgery costing Rs. 80,000/-. Donate blood 80 times in a lifetime.
  • Avoid exposure to >80 dB of noise pollution.

India faces the dual burden of obesity and malnutrition: HCFI

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Increasing obesity levels in rural India a cause for concern

New Delhi, 10th May 2019: Obesity is increasing more rapidly in the world’s rural areas than in cities, according to a study of global trends in body-mass index (BMI). The study, published in the journal Nature, analysed the height and weight data of over 112 million adults across urban and rural areas of 200 countries and territories between 1985 and 2017. The prevalence of obesity in India is increasing and ranges from 8% to 38% in rural and 13% to 50% in urban areas.

Rural areas in low- and middle-income countries have seen shifts towards higher incomes, better infrastructure, more mechanized agriculture and increased car use. These factors not only bring numerous health benefits, but also lead to lower energy expenditure and to more spending on food, which can be processed and low-quality when sufficient regulations are not in place. The need of the hour is large-scale awareness on the importance of healthy eating patterns.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Obesity is the mother of conditions such as diabetes and heart problems. India faces a dual burden. On the one hand is malnutrition and on the other is obesity. What makes obesity in India different from the rest of the world is that in our country, it is marked by the ‘Thin-Fat Indian Phenotype’. This means that there is a higher proportion of people with body fat, abdominal obesity, and visceral fat, in comparison with Caucasian and European counterparts. Hence, world obesity generally reported in terms of waist circumference, and a BMI beyond 30, significantly underestimates the prevalence of obesity in India. Indian obesity needs to be estimated according to a lower threshold of BMI 25. Additionally, even a normal BMI of up to 23, might show higher instances of isolated abdominal obesity.”

Two primary culprits of obesity include a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating patterns. The consumption of processed food has increased manifold. This, combined with untimely working patterns and lack of physical activity, make the situation worse.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “The traditional Indian diet is rich in carbohydrates. People consume large quantities of rice, rotis, and even bread. Apart from this, there is widespread availability of fried and unhealthy fast food today, which are all contributors to empty calories in the diet. Indians are caught amidst all this and therefore, the increase in the prevalence of obesity does not come as a surprise.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • The key to weight loss is reducing how many calories you take in.
  • The concept of energy density can help you satisfy your hunger with fewer calories.
  • To make your overall diet healthier, eat more plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole-grain carbohydrates.
  • Make exercise an important part of your daily routine. Start slow and increase the duration as you go along.

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