High blood pressure affects almost 1 in every 4 Singaporeans between age 30-69 years old. It is also more prevalent in elderly communities, with about half of the population between 60-69 having hypertension (another name for high blood pressure).
Why does this matter?
High blood pressure increases the risk of heart failure, heart attack (myocardial infarction), stroke, and kidney failure. Treating high blood pressure can reduce your risk of heart attack, stroke, and death.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure is the pressure that blood applies to the inner walls of the arteries. Arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to other organs and parts of the body.
Two measurements define an individual’s blood pressure:
- Systolic pressure: the pressure in the arteries produced when the heart contracts (at the time of a heartbeat)
- Diastolic pressure: the pressure in the arteries during relaxation of the heart between heartbeats
The Singapore Ministry of Health suggests the following classification of Blood Pressure levels for adults ages 18 years and older.
Untreated high blood pressure increases the strain on the heart and arteries, eventually leading to organ damage. The risk of these complications increases as your blood pressure rises above 110/75, which is still in the healthy range.
Why I do have high blood pressure?
Kidney problems are responsible for 5% of high blood pressure cases. The remaining 95% of hypertension diagnosis is typically of unknown causes, although known risk factors include:
Every time I measure my blood pressure, different values show up. How can I get diagnosed?
Blood pressure naturally has significant and spontaneous variations. It is the lowest at night and in the evenings, while higher in the middle of the afternoon. Stress, anxiety, tobacco use, caffeine, and exercise can also influence your blood pressure as well. Therefore, your GP may suggest you take several blood pressure readings before confirming your diagnosis.
Before you measure your blood pressure levels, you need to sit or lie down for at least 3 minutes. It is recommended you not smoke, take coffee or exercise 30 minutes before taking your blood pressure reading.
How can I manage hypertension?
The first line of treatment for those with high blood pressure should be lifestyle interventions. This can include:
- Weight loss
- Reduction of salt & alcohol intake
- Having more fruits, vegetables & whole grains
- Following a DASH eating plan (DASH is short for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)
What about medication?
Depending on your risk of developing cardiovascular disease, your doctor will decide whether you should take medication immediately upon diagnosis or wait to see if you can change your lifestyle within 3 to 6 months and improve your blood pressure. Once on medication, you must be consistent and take it regularly. Only stop or reduce your dosage when advised by your doctor.
Is hypertension considered a chronic disease?
Health promotion board defines a chronic disease as a medical condition that is generally progressive and can be managed with simple lifestyle changes. High blood pressure cannot be cured and can lead to serious health conditions and requires continuous monitoring and management. It is therefore categorised as a chronic disease.
At MyDoc we have several programmes that can help you gain control of your health. Contact us to find out more.
Always here for you,
MyDoc Lead Dietitian
*The content in this publication is for educational purposes only, and therefore is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
European Society of Cardiology. (1 Sep, 2018). 2018 ESC/ESH Guidelines for the management of arterial hypertension. European Heart Journal 39(33): 3021–3104. Retrieved July 9, 2020 from https://dl.uswr.ac.ir/bitstream/Hannan/52973/1/EHJ%202018%20Volume%2039%20Issue%2033%20September%20%286%29.pdf
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Health Promotion Board. (29 Aug, 2018). High Blood Pressure. Retrieved July 1, from https://www.healthhub.sg/a-z/diseases-and-conditions/53/highbloodpressure.
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