Common myths about blood pressure, busted!

There are several myths and misconceptions surrounding Blood Pressure(BP) and its treatment. Understanding and debunking these myths is important, not just to change your numbers but overall health. Let us look at 8 of the most common misconceptions and the truth behind each

Image source: Google
Image source: Google

Misconception: There is nothing we can do to prevent Hypertension.

Truth: Even if a person is showing many risk factors, few preventive steps taken in the right direction can help controlling and preventing high BP. These include judicious weight control, healthy food habits, low salt consumption, regular exercise and by avoiding stress

Misconception:  One abnormal reading of high BP means I have hypertension.

Truth: One abnormal reading is not enough; a doctor can diagnose hypertension only after taking several BP readings over a period.

Misconception: I don’t use table salt, so I am in control of my salt intake.

Truth: 75% of Sodium we consume is hidden in processed foods like sauces, soups, canned food, butter and cheese; not actually in the table salt or homecooked food.

Misconception: High BP is always caused by a poor diet and lack of activity

Truth: Certainly, diet and lifestyle influence our BP, but there are definite non-modifiable risk factors like age, family history and ethnicity that also have a big role to play.

Misconception: I use Sea Salt/ Rock Salt/ Pink Salt when I cook instead of regular table salt, as they are low in Sodium.

Truth: Chemically, the Sodium content in all these salt varieties is the same.

Misconception: People with high BP have headaches, dizzy spells, nervousness, sweating and poor sleep patterns. I don’t have any of these, so I do not have hypertension.

Truth: Most of the time hypertension is SILENT; it does not produce symptoms. Usually, hypertension comes to notice during a routine BP check-up.

Misconception: I don’t have to check BP at home.

Truth: It is always good to keep an easy-to-operate BP monitor at home, as it will help you keep a track. It will also help your doctor make proper medication or dose adjustment, if necessary.

Misconception: Once my BP is controlled, I can stop consuming medicines.

Truth: Once you are on medication for hypertension, you may need to take it lifelong, unless advised otherwise by your physician. Suddenly stopping consumption of your BP medicines can produce ‘rebound hypertension’ which can be dangerous.

Maintaining a nutritious and well-balanced diet can help curb high BP. DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) diet; is to be adopted with your physician’s guidance:

  • Consume 1/ 2 servings of low-fat dairy each day
  • Consume plenty of bean proteins
  • Consume 3 servings of whole grains each day
  • Get enough of vitamin D
  • Balance health fat intake by increasing consumption of omega 3 fatty acids
  • Cut down on sugar intake, from all sources, especially hot and cold beverages
  • Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables

The author is a Consultant Physician and  Internist at Fortis Hospital Mulund, Mumbai