Salt for Health

Hypertension in India

Hypertension or high blood pressure (BP) is defined as blood pressure at or over the range of 140/80mmHg. Blood pressure is the measure of force of blood against blood vessel walls and the degree of the force depends on the heart’s ability to pump out blood and the resistance of the blood vessel. Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day however, elevated blood pressure for a longer time has proved dangerous and is known to be the cause of many serious and life threatening heart diseases, kidney diseases and also diabetes (2).

Since hypertension develops overtime, experts say that 90% of patients are unaware that they are suffering from it (2). It is until that their blood pressure increases above the threshold is when they become aware of the symptoms which may become too late for some people. High blood pressure (BP) has become the most prevalent chronic disease in India. Stressful lifestyle and busy work schedule along with altered food choices has led high blood pressure to be a major public health issue which is growing exponentially every year in India.  Current research suggests that the prevalence of hypertension is at 20%-40% in urban areas and 12%-17% in rural areas of India and one in 3 adults suffer from this threatening lifestyle disease (1). What’s even scarier is that high blood pressure is no longer an old age disease as one might presume. It can affect anyone, including children and young adults.

Causes of High BP

When asked about the cause of high blood pressure, majority of people would agree when I say that it’s an old age disease. As that might be true, it is not the only cause of high BP.

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Lack of exercise
  • Faulty eating habits such as late night meals, excessive intake of salty and fatty foods
  • Genetics
  • Ethnicity
  •  Sex, etc.

These can all contribute in developing this silent but deadly disease (2).

Prevention

One of the easiest ways to reduce the chance of getting high blood pressure is to have an active and healthy lifestyle.

  1. Exercising regularly, taking part in various outdoor activities and encouraging kids to engage in more outdoor sports will lower the risk of high blood pressure.
  2. Ensuring that the entire family follows a healthy and well balanced diet. Reducing intake of fatty food, processed food, late night meals and increasing intake of potassium rich foods can also play a major role in managing your blood pressure and reducing the risk of hypertension.  
  3. Introducing a low sodium salt in your diet. It’s very important to understand that high BP is not only caused by intake of salt but other micronutrients and dietary habits also a play a role. Using products such as low sodium salt (within the recommended amounts) which has 15% less sodium than the normal salt and is fortified with iodine and potassium is one of the great way Using products such as low sodium salt (within the recommended amounts) which has less sodium than the normal salt and is fortified with other important minerals is one of the great way to follow your natural taste of salt while adding to food and not deprive yourself of it.

In summary, people in today’s world are very busy in achieving their goals and small but necessary lifestyle modification such as using low sodium salt can go a long way in reducing the risk of hypertension and associated health risks.

Reference

  1. Anchala, R., Kannuri, N. K., Pant, H., Khan, H., Franco, O. H., Di Angelantonio, E., & Prabhakaran, D. (2014). Hypertension in India: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prevalence, awareness, and control of hypertension. Journal of Hypertension32(6), 1170–1177.
  2. Mahan, Kathleen.L (2012) Krause’s Food and the Nutrition Care Process, St. Louis, Missouri: El Sevier

Back