World Hypertension Day 2024: Awareness and Prevention

09 May 2024

world hypertension day

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a leading cause of death worldwide. Though it cannot be cured, it can be managed with lifestyle and pharmacological interventions.

Despite its pervasiveness, public awareness about hypertension is lacking on a global scale. This is an issue that World Hypertension Day (WHD) seeks to change.

Celebrated annually on May 17, WHD is an opportunity to raise awareness and curb its prevalence. The Islamic Medical Association of North America (IMANA) is using the occasion to help improve the public’s understanding of why high blood pressure is dangerous. It also encourages people to take action and adopt preventive measures to minimize their risk of hypertension.

Join us as we take a closer look at this health condition, including steps you can take to avoid it.

What Is High Blood Pressure?

Hypertension is characterized by systolic blood pressure readings above 140 millimeters of mercury (mm HG) and diastolic blood pressure readings above 90 millimeters of mercury (mm HG). It is measured and monitored with a sphygmomanometer. The tool has an inflatable cuff that wraps around the arm and provides insights into blood pressure in the arteries.

Why Is It Important To Spread Awareness About Hypertension?

Hypertension affects 1 in 3 people globally, resulting in 7.5 million deaths each year. It’s common and deadly, mostly because half of the people who have it are unaware that they have the condition. This is because high blood pressure has no warning signs.

If it is left undiscovered or uncontrolled, it can significantly increase one’s risk of severe health complications. These include:

  • Heart failure 
  • Chest pain (angina)
  • Heart attack or stroke
  • Vision loss or impairment 
  • Peripheral artery disease (PAD)

Hypertension can also cause organ damage such as kidney failure.

Hypertension has an enormous economic impact. In 1995, the annual budget allocation for hypertension drugs was about 15%.

Preventing and Managing Hypertension

Most of the time, high blood pressure has no identifiable causes. It develops over time as a result of being overweight or having a family history of hypertension. It could also be brought on by a poor diet, inactivity, substance use or abuse, and high levels of stress.

Though 119.9 million adults in the United States are estimated to have hypertension, it can be managed and prevented by:

Being Active 

A 2019 article provided guidelines for hypertensive patients: 

  • Engage in moderate-intensity exercise for at least 150 minutes a week or 75 minutes of weekly high-intensity exercise.
  • Perform muscle-strengthening activities at least 2  days per week.

Being physically active can improve blood circulation and help manage high blood pressure. Regular exercise can also reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and unhappiness. Plus, you can use it to maximize weight loss, develop stronger muscles, protect your memory, and reduce the likelihood of developing chronic diseases.

Eat Healthy 

A healthy diet consists of food low in saturated fat and salt (limited to 2 grams a day). It is high in fiber, protein, and essential vitamins and minerals.  If you follow these guidelines, you can treat and prevent high blood pressure.

An easy way to go about it is to follow the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. It categorizes food groups into grains, fruits, veggies, and more. It also recommends portion sizes for its 2,000-calorie-a-day diet.

Quit Smoking 

Blood pressure and heart rate increase during smoking. The nicotine in cigars has a hypertensive effect that stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. Moreover, it can increase the risk of a fatal stroke by 3.5 times!

Quitting smoking can reduce high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes, minimize the risk of premature death, and improve quality of life.

Manage Stress 

Stress can cause short spikes in blood pressure, highlighting the importance of stress management. So, maintain a positive attitude. Listen to calming and soothing music. Make time for hobbies and meditation. Practice gratitude. Find out which activities relax you and make it a point to engage in them.

Moderate Alcohol

Alcohol constricts blood vessels, making them narrower (vasoconstriction). It makes your heart work harder and reduces the volume of blood flow, which can lead to higher blood pressure. 

Ideally, you should quit alcohol altogether. But if it isn’t possible, limit intake to less than 30  milliliters per day for men and 15 milliliters per day for women.

Get Enough Shuteye

Poor sleep can increase sympathetic nervous activity, leading to increased blood pressure and higher heart rates. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it, even during the weekends.

If you have trouble sleeping, 

  • Take slow, deep breaths.
  • Create an environment conducive to sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime.

It also helps to get at least 30 minutes of natural light during the day.

Maintain a Healthy Weight 

Obesity increases blood pressure so much that it is associated with 65% to 78% of primary hypertension cases

If you have a body mass index higher than 25, lose weight to keep your blood pressure manageable while reducing your risk for other health issues. Every kilogram of weight you lose could result in a 1 mmHg reduction in blood pressure!

Talk to your healthcare provider before making changes to your diet to ensure that they are safe, effective, and don’t conflict with any prescription medications.

Get Screened Regularly

If you know you have hypertension, you’re in a better position to do something about it. So, whether or not you’ve been diagnosed, get regular screening. 

If you consistently have a blood pressure of 130/80 or experience symptoms like abnormal heart rhythm, blurred vision, chest pain, confusion, dizziness, nosebleeds, headaches, nausea, and vomiting, seek professional care immediately for early detection and management.

Your healthcare provider will monitor your blood pressure to ensure it stays in control.

IMANA’s Healthcare Initiatives: How We Help 

IMANA provides a list of helpful resources, empowering people to take control of their health and achieve better overall well-being. We’re also on a mission to provide basic healthcare services to underserved communities and improve the state of our healthcare systems.

Donations and volunteers are always welcome. To remain updated on our latest initiatives, don’t forget to download our app.