High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common health condition that affects people of all ages. In Malaysia, the prevalence of hypertension is increasing, and it is estimated that around 30% of adults have hypertension. This is a concerning trend, as hypertension can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. In this article, we will discuss why blood pressure screenings are important for every age group in Malaysia and how regular screenings can help prevent hypertension-related health problems.
Blood pressure is the force of blood against the walls of arteries as it flows through the body. When this pressure is too high, it can put strain on the heart and blood vessels, leading to serious health problems. High blood pressure often has no symptoms, which is why regular blood pressure screenings are important.
In Malaysia, hypertension is a common health condition that affects people of all ages. To prevent hypertension-related health problems, it is important to understand why blood pressure screenings are important for every age group.
What is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition where the force of blood against the walls of arteries is consistently too high. This condition is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it usually has no symptoms. High blood pressure can damage the heart, blood vessels, and other organs, leading to serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and vision loss.
Why is High Blood Pressure Dangerous?
- Heart attack
- Kidney failure
- Vision loss
- Aneurysm (weakening and bulging of blood vessels)
- Cognitive impairment and dementia
- Sexual dysfunction
Importance of Blood Pressure Screenings for Children and Adolescents
High blood pressure can affect children and adolescents as well as adults. Early detection and treatment of high blood pressure in children and adolescents can help prevent hypertension-related health problems later in life.
Children and adolescents may be at risk for high blood pressure if they:
- Are overweight or obese
- Have a family history of hypertension
- Have sleep apnea
- Have kidney disease or other chronic medical conditions
- Are exposed to secondhand smoke
Importance of Blood Pressure Screenings for Adults
High blood pressure is a common health condition in adults, particularly those over the age of 40. Regular blood pressure screenings can help detect high blood pressure early and prevent hypertension-related health problems.
Adults may be at risk for high blood pressure if they:
- Have a family history of hypertension
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Unhealthy diet (high in sodium, low in potassium)
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Obesity or overweight
Regular blood pressure screenings can help identify these risk factors and allow for early intervention to prevent or manage high blood pressure. For a more in-depth look on the topic of causes for high blood pressure, read here.
Blood Pressure Screening Methods
Blood pressure screenings can be done in a variety of settings, including clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies. The two main types of blood pressure readings are:
- Systolic blood pressure: The pressure in the arteries when the heart beats
- Diastolic blood pressure: The pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest between beats
Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). A normal blood pressure reading is typically around 120/80 mmHg. High blood pressure is defined as a reading of 130/80 mmHg or higher.
How to Prepare for a Blood Pressure Screening
Before a blood pressure screening, it is important to avoid caffeine, tobacco, and exercise for at least 30 minutes. You should also empty your bladder beforehand and sit quietly for 5 minutes before the screening.
Interpreting Blood Pressure Readings
Blood pressure readings can be interpreted as follows:
Normal: Less than 120/80 mmHg
Prehypertension: 120 – 139/less than 80 – 89mmHg
Stage 1 hypertension: 140-159/90-99 mmHg
Stage 2 hypertension: 160 mmHg or higher
If you have an elevated blood pressure reading, your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as losing weight, exercising regularly, and reducing sodium intake. If you have stage 1 or 2 hypertension, your doctor may prescribe medication in addition to lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Hypertension
Lifestyle changes that can help prevent or manage high blood pressure include:
- Eating a healthy diet that is low in sodium and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Engaging in regular physical activity
- Quitting smoking
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Managing stress
- Treatment Options for High Blood Pressure
Treatment options for high blood pressure may include lifestyle changes and medication. If lifestyle changes alone are not enough to manage high blood pressure, your doctor may prescribe medication to lower your blood pressure.
There are several classes of medications used to treat high blood pressure, including:
- ACE inhibitors
- Calcium channel blockers
Your doctor will determine the best treatment plan for your individual needs.
Regular blood pressure screenings are important for every age group in Malaysia. Hypertension can lead to serious health problems if left untreated, but early detection and management can help prevent or minimize these complications. Lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, regular exercise, and stress management can also help prevent or manage high blood pressure.