Hypertension is not a disease to be afraid of!

Translation: Hipertansiyon is Not a Disease to Fear!

Review of the Topic on World Hypertension Day, May 17

What does hypertension mean, and how is it defined?

Hypertension is defined as the elevated pressure of the blood pumped by our heart against the walls of the arteries. To express it numerically, if our systolic blood pressure is ≥140 and/or diastolic blood pressure is ≥90 mmHg, then we have hypertension.

How common is hypertension?

Hypertension is a quite common condition. It is observed in about 30-35% of the adult population and increases to 50% in the population over the age of 50. Worldwide, more than 1.5 billion people have hypertension.

How does high blood pressure affect our body, and which organs are harmed by hypertension?

High blood pressure negatively affects our entire vascular system, significantly increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially for the heart, brain, and kidneys. Hypertension increases the risk of stroke by 3-4 times, heart failure by 3-4 times, and heart attack by 2 times.

Is hypertension a disease to be feared? What is the success rate of treatment?

We can look at hypertension from two different perspectives. From a negative standpoint, we need to emphasize that hypertension is a chronic condition that requires lifelong treatment. When left untreated, it significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. From a positive perspective, it is essential to highlight that hypertension is a disease that can be successfully treated with a high success rate in modern medicine. All it takes is timely screening, an early diagnosis, and the implementation of the prescribed treatment.

Extensive patient data shows that reducing systolic blood pressure by 10 mmHg (1 point) or diastolic blood pressure by 5 mmHg (half a point) results in a 10-15% reduction in all-cause mortality, a 35% reduction in stroke, a 20% reduction in heart attack, and a 40% reduction in heart failure. As seen, when hypertension is treated, it is not a disease to be feared, and the risk can be significantly reduced with appropriate treatment.

How is hypertension treated? What methods are used in treatment?

Hypertension treatment consists of two components: medication and lifestyle changes. For a successful treatment, these two components need to be implemented together. Medication involves the regular use of drugs prescribed by a doctor.

Lifestyle changes include:

Maintaining an ideal body weight (Body Mass Index should be between 18.8-25 kg/m2). Losing excess weight is crucial; a weight loss of 10 kg reduces blood pressure by 1 point (10 mmHg), equivalent to the effect of a medication.

Restricting salt intake: Daily salt consumption should not exceed 5–6 grams (approximately 1 level teaspoon).

Adopting healthy eating habits: Meals should include vegetables, fruits, low-fat foods, whole grains, vegetable-based proteins, and fish at least twice a week. Avoid processed foods and those containing excessive fat, refined sugar, and salt.

Quitting smoking entirely and limiting alcohol consumption.

Engaging in moderate to high-intensity exercise at least 3 days a week. Regular exercise can lead to a decrease in blood pressure of nearly 1 point (8 mmHg).

Learning stress management and coping techniques.

Do medications used in hypertension treatment harm the kidneys?

Untreated hypertension initially and most commonly affects our kidneys. The medications used in treatment are very safe, and side effects causing harm to the kidneys are extremely rare. It is not the medication but untreated high blood pressure that harms the kidneys.

Therefore, it is vital to use the prescribed medications regularly to protect all our organs, including the kidneys, heart, and brain, from the negative effects of high blood pressure.