Understanding Hypertension

Hypertension is one of the major non-communicable diseases affecting adults age 18 years and older in Malaysia. Having the highest rate of overweight and obese population among Asian countries, it is no surprise that the prevalence of hypertension in Malaysia is 35.3%, which showed an increase as compared to 33.6% in 2011 (National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) for non-communicable disease (NCD) risk factors in 2015).

Hypertension is defined as persistent elevation of systolic blood pressure (BP) reading of above 140mmHg and/or diastolic BP reading above 90mmHg, taken at least twice on 2 separate occasions (Malaysian Ministry of Health (MOH) Clinical Practice Guidelines on Management of
Hypertension, 5th Edition 2018).

Why Is Diagnosing Hypertension Important?

It is important to know that hypertension is majorly underdiagnosed; in 2015 it was found that for every 2 diagnosed hypertensive patients in Malaysia, there are 3 undiagnosed patients. Untreated or sub-optimally treated hypertension will lead to an increased risk of developing complication such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and overall morbidity and mortality rate. Thus, it is important for a person to have their BP measured at every chance encounter.

Risk Factors for Hypertension

Risk Factors for Hypertension 

Non-modifiable Risk Factors

Unhealthy diet (excessive salt consumption, diet high in saturated fat and trans fat, low intake of fruits and vegetables)

Family history of hypertension

Lack of physical activity & sedentary lifestyle

Age over 65 years old

Cigarette smoking

Co-existing disease such as diabetes mellitus or kidney disease

Alcohol consumption

Overweight or obesity (BMI > 23kg/m2)

Risk Factors for Hypertension 

Unhealthy diet (excessive salt consumption, diet high in saturated fat and trans fat, low intake of fruits and vegetables)

Lack of physical activity & sedentary lifestyle

Cigarette smoking

Alcohol consumption

Overweight or obesity (BMI > 23kg/m2)

Non-modifiable Risk Factors

Family history of hypertension

Age over 65 years old

Co-existing disease such as diabetes mellitus or kidney disease

Risk Factors for Hypertension

Hypertension is called a ‘silent killer’ because it may not present with any signs or symptoms making patients unaware of the disease. Therefore it is essential that blood pressure is measured regularly by a healthcare professional.

When symptoms do occur, they can include early morning headaches, nosebleeds, irregular heart rhythms, vision changes, and buzzing in ears. Severe hypertension can cause fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion, anxiety, chest pain and muscle tremors.

Complications of Uncontrolled Hypertension

Among other complications, hypertension can cause serious damage to the heart. Excessive pressure can harden arteries, decreasing the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart. This elevated pressure and reduced blood flow can cause.

Chest pain, also called angina.

Heart attack, which occurs when the blood supply to the heart is blocked and heart muscle cells die from lack of oxygen. The longer the blood flow is blocked, the greater the damage to the heart.

Heart failure, which occurs when the heart cannot pump enough blood and oxygen to other vital body organs.

Irregular heart beat which can lead to a sudden death

Hypertension can also burst or block arteries that supply blood and oxygen to the brain, causing a stroke.

Kidney damage, leading to kidney failure.

Management of Hypertension

Prevention

  • Reducing salt intake (to less than 5g daily)
  • Eating more fruit and vegetables
  • Being physically active on a regular basis
  • Avoiding use of tobacco
  • Reducing alcohol consumption
  • Limiting the intake of foods high in saturated fats
  • Eliminating/reducing trans fats in diet

Diagnosis and Treatment

 

  • Reducing and managing mental stress
  • Regularly checking blood pressure
  • Treating high blood pressure with medication
  • Managing other medical conditions

Prevention

  • Reducing salt intake (to less than 5g daily)
  • Eating more fruit and vegetables
  • Being physically active on a regular basis
  • Avoiding use of tobacco
  • Reducing alcohol consumption
  • Limiting the intake of foods high in saturated fats
  • Eliminating/reducing trans fats in diet

Diagnosis and Treatment

 

  • Reducing and managing mental stress
  • Regularly checking blood pressure
  • Treating high blood pressure with medication
  • Managing other medical conditions