World Hypertension Day: Busting common myths about high blood pressure

World Hypertension Day: Busting common myths about high blood pressure

By: nabeela khan&
May 17 2024

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World Hypertension Day: Busting common myths about high blood pressure

(Source: Freepik/Modified by Logically Facts)

May 17 marks World Hypertension Day which is dedicated to creating awareness about high blood pressure. Hypertension occurs when the blood pushing into your vessels is consistently high, and is a common condition that affects the arteries. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “an estimated 1.28 billion adults aged 30 to 79 worldwide have hypertension, most (two-thirds) living in low — and middle-income countries.” 

Since high blood pressure shows no signs or symptoms, the disease can go unnoticed and therefore; untreated or unsupervised. To address the lack of awareness, combined with several common myths associated with this condition, we asked cardiologist Dr. Pradeep Haranahalli from Manipal Hospital Whitefield to address some misconceptions on World Hypertension Day.

Myth: Only overweight people have hypertension 

Pradeep Haranahalli: Being overweight is one of many factors that contributes to hypertension, but it’s not the only reason. However, losing weight may contribute to reducing the dose of blood pressure medicines. Irrespective of weight, eating habits play an important role. Excess salt-rich food consumption, lack of fruit and vegetables in the meal, and consumption of alcohol and tobacco contribute to hypertension. Additionally, genetics play an important role in causing hypertension as well.

Myth: People with hypertension should replace table salt with sea salt and other low-sodium options

Pradeep Haranahalli: It’s a popular myth that consumption of low-sodium salt, sea salt, pink salt, rock salt, and various other alternatives reduces hypertension. However, all of them contain a good amount of sodium, which impacts blood pressure on excess consumption. The key is to restrict/reduce salt consumption in any form. However, it should not be mistaken to opt for a zero-salt diet, which is practically impossible and also harmful. 

Myth: Consuming hibiscus juice, dark chocolate, kiwis, and blueberries, helps manage or reverse hypertension 

Pradeep Haranahalli: Patients always seek and explore herbal and alternative medicines as remedies for hypertension. But medications are key in hypertension. Various healthy modifications in the diet and use of certain food products may be of a small help. Small studies have shown that hibiscus juice, tea, and similar concoctions have a marginal effect on hypertension. Dark chocolate and other flavanol-rich cocoa products also slightly impact blood pressure. The same applies to kiwi and blueberries.  Literature pointing to the health benefits of some food products on hypertension are misunderstood to help reverse or cure it, or that they can replace medication. 

Myth: Women are rarely affected by hypertension

Pradeep Haranahalli: The myth that women are rarely affected leads to delayed recognition and more instances of hypertension-related complications in women.  Data says that women constitute half the adults with hypertension. Even though hypertension is not directly related to gender, women through various life stages like - pregnancy, pregnancy-prevention pills, and menopause, continue to have the risk of developing hypertension.

Myth: If hypertension runs in the family, nothing can be done to control it

Pradeep Haranahalli: The most common type of hypertension, essential hypertension, does not have one single treatable cause. It is multifactorial and due to the synergy of multiple factors. Each single factor contributes to one’s risk of developing hypertension, and family history is not the only cause. Those who have a history in the family may reduce the risk of developing hypertension by effectively managing all other contributing factors like maintaining optimum body weight, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, regular physical activity, and healthy eating habits.

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