Hypertension is a silent killer. Recent research shows that this pervasive disease affects over a billion people worldwide.
According to a 2019 study in The Lancet, hypertension “is the most important risk factor in the global burden of disease.” But what exactly is hypertension?
In this article, I’m going to explain what hypertension is, and why it has earned itself the moniker “silent killer.” I’ll also share my personal experiences overcoming hypertension, as it’s something I’ve struggled with throughout my adult life.
What is Hypertension?
Hypertension is also known as high blood pressure, or elevated blood pressure. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), it occurs when the force of the blood flowing through your vessels is consistently too high.
Hypertension is all about the volume of blood your heart pumps, and the level of resistance it encounters while flowing in the arteries and veins. It’s measured in the arteries, where pressure is normally much higher than in the veins.
Simply put, hypertension is the force of blood pressing against the walls of the arteries. Therefore, it arises when the blood volume pumped from the heart has to flow through abnormally narrowed arteries.
Normal Blood Pressure vs Hypertension
Systolic and diastolic readings are used to express blood pressure. Both numbers are recorded in a fraction format, followed by a measurement denotation mm Hg or millimeters of mercury. The upper digit shows systolic blood pressure, while the ones underneath indicate diastolic blood pressure.
Systolic blood pressure occurs as the heart pumps blood into the arteries. On the other hand, diastolic blood pressure happens when the ticker rests between the beats.
Normally, doctors focus on systolic more than diastolic pressure. This is because systolic pressure predicts the risk of cardiovascular disease better.
The AHA categorizes blood pressure levels as follows:
- Normal: 120/80 mm Hg – Maintain heart-friendly habits.
- Elevated: 120-129/-80 mm Hg – Take steps to avoid full-blown hypertension.
- Hypertension Stage 1: 130-139/80-89 mm Hg – Doctor’s intervention needed.
- Hypertension Stage 2: 140/90 mm Hg – Comprehensive doctor’s intervention needed.
- Hypertensive Crisis: 180/120 mm Hg – Urgent doctor’s intervention needed.
Can Anyone Win the Hypertension Battle?
The answer to this question is a resounding yes!
Later in this article, I will open up about my personal struggle with hypertension. I will tell you exactly how I staged a stoic duel, eventually freeing myself from the claws of a determined silent killer.
The Numbers Behind Hypertension
Hypertension causes 7.6 million deaths worldwide every year. This trend is rising rapidly, particularly in low to medium income countries.
Even developed nations are not spared from hypertension, especially due to the growing average age in many countries (research shows that exposure to hypertension rises with age).
In the U.S., nearly half-a-million people lost their lives to hypertension and related complications in 2017. Moreover, the WHO reports that an estimated 1.13 billion people worldwide are living with the disease.
Why is Hypertension Called the “Silent Killer”?
Hypertension never strikes with the force of a dreadful disease. When it picks its target, it silently slithers its way in, and can ultimately cause death.
For most people, the disease shows no symptoms at all. But as it progresses, it causes damage to the heart, brain, kidneys, eyes, and blood vessels.
Complications like heart attack, heart failure and stroke; kidney disease, and even dementia, may follow.
How I Defeated the Silent Killer
Four years ago, I depended on drugs to control my elevated blood pressure.
Then I lost my job. I couldn’t afford the medicine any more.
So, there I was, with no way of controlling the life-threatening condition I was saddled with. I had to do something urgently to free myself from hypertension.
I scoured the internet for information on natural remedies (disclaimer! I am not a doctor, these are my personal experiences). Soon enough, I came up with a treasure trove of knowledge.
When I finally started evaluating my data, I settled on a plan to control my blood pressure. The key was a mixture of grated garlic and ginger, crushed guava leaves, and diced lemon.
I boiled this blend, and the result was a heady brew that was hard to swallow. An idea struck home – I tossed organic honey into the mix. The taste improved tremendously. The honey added great value to the nutritional contents, too.
I took this concoction every morning on an empty stomach, and again before I retired for the night. Regular walks, amateur aerobics, and medium-level strength exercises tied things up.
In precisely four weeks, my blood pressure fell from an average of 150/80-90 to below 130/80. Not only that, the pounds dropped like melted candle wax. I shed more than two every week! I was awestruck!
With that, I showed hypertension the door.
Research recommends a change in diet as one of the most effective ways of preventing hypertension. Scientists have firmly endorsed the DASH diet as a preventative strategy.
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. It focuses on fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and an overall reduction in fats (both saturated and total).
The NIH study also recommends supplementation to your diet with macronutrients like protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats like Omega-3s found in fish oil.
Another study found that the Mediterranean diet, too, could prevent high blood pressure. This diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, potatoes, whole grains, breads, herbs, spices, fish, seafood, and extra-virgin olive oil. It also encourages moderate consumption of poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt – and, rarely, red meat.
When it comes to supplementation, studies have shown that turmeric can be be beneficial for individuals with hypertension.
Hypertension is called the silent killer because it has no symptoms.
It slowly damages the heart, brain, kidneys, eyes and blood vessels. Yet, the disease doesn’t have to be a death sentence. I was able to reverse the course of my hypertension by watching my diet carefully.
Disclaimer: this is my personal story! Talk to a doctor.
It’s not the goal of this article to convince you to choose alternative hypertension remedies over pharmaceutical drugs. I’m not a medical doctor; hence I have no proof of the effectiveness of the natural cures or diets that worked for me. This is just one man’s story about dealing with hypertension and I hope it’s been helpful for you.
If you think you have hypertension, contact a doctor immediately to get a professional medical opinion on the best course of action, before evaluating your options.