Debunking Hypertension Myths
Disclaimer: The information contained herein are for educational purposes only and are not intended to offer personal medical advice. Please seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
Hypertension is the leading cause of noncommunicable disease deaths worldwide, but it remains one of the most widely misunderstood and poorly controlled conditions.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 1 billion people around the world suffer from hypertension, but only few of these people (about 1 in 5) have their condition under control. What's worse, many of them are practically walking timebombs who do not even know that they have it. There could be a lot of reasons for this, but the myths that mislead people to believe that hypertension only affects old people or that it is nothing serious, to name a few, are partly to be blamed.
These sorts of myths can be alarmingly dangerous as people may just downplay their condition and refuse proper treatment due to the misinformation, exposing themselves to the serious complications of hypertension including coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and kidney failure.
This Hypertension awareness month, Trinity Insurance Brokers will dispel the 8 most common myths surrounding hypertension, so that we're able to understand it more and take better care of ourselves and our loved ones.
MYTH #1: I am still young, and I feel fine. I do not need to get checked for hypertension.
Not getting your blood pressure regularly checked just because you think you are not too old enough to have it and do not feel any symptoms is not a wise decision to make.
Hypertension is largely asymptomatic which means that people who have it do not always experience symptoms. In rare cases, some people may develop headaches when their blood pressure rises into dangerous levels, but in the majority of the population, hypertension can go undetected until it causes a lethal heart attack or stroke.
The only way for you to know whether your blood pressure is normal or not is to get your blood pressure checked. By doing so, you could get proper treatment before
the high blood pressure could silently damage your blood vessels and lead to more serious health problems.
MYTH #2: My doctor checks my blood pressure for me, that is good enough.
Even though your doctor already checks your blood pressure regularly, you should still do blood pressure monitoring at home and keep a record of your blood pressure readings, especially if you have persistently high blood pressure. This can help your doctor to have valuable information to determine whether you really have hypertension, or your treatment plan is working (if you do have hypertension).
Because the blood pressure constantly fluctuates throughout the day, it is important to take the readings at the same time each day, such as morning and evening, or as your healthcare professional recommends.
MYTH #3: I don't usually add salt on my food, so I am safe.
Table salt does contain sodium, the main nutrient that can increase blood pressure in some people. But reducing or eliminating the use of table salt to avoid sodium in your diet is just part of the solution.
In fact, 75% of the sodium we consume is actually hidden in processed foods like most fast foods (such as pizza and hamburgers), snacks (such as potato chips and corn chips), processed meat (such as sausages, salami, hotdogs, and luncheon meats), and pre-packaged sauces and condiments (such as pickles, soy sauce, and tomato-based paste and sauces). So, unless you also limit these food items, you are not really controlling your total sodium intake.
MYTH #4: I use kosher or sea salt when I cook instead of regular table salt. They are better alternatives for someone with hypertension.
Chemically, kosher salt and sea salt are the same as table salt in terms of sodium content; they all contain about 40 percent sodium by weight. As a general rule, use any types of salt sparingly as they can affect your blood pressure the same way when taken in excess.
MYTH #5: Hypertension runs in my family so there is no point in trying to do lifestyle changes to prevent it.
A family history of high blood pressure does not mean you will automatically have high blood pressure, but it does increase your chances. While it is certainly true that hypertension has a genetic component, research shows that maintaining a healthy lifestyle and diet can cancel out the genetic predisposition to high blood pressure.
MYTH #6: I have been maintaining lower blood pressure readings lately, so I can stop taking my medication.
You should not stop taking your medication without the advice of your doctor despite seeing an improvement in your blood pressure readings. Your medication is controlling your blood pressure so when you stop taking it, your blood pressure is likely to rise again if you haven't addressed the underlying cause. For your medication to work properly, you should always take it as prescribed.
MYTH #7: I have heard that the side effects of medications for high blood pressure are not worth it.
Any medication can cause side effects, but many people do not experience negative effects from taking medication for high blood pressure. For those that do, the side effects are often mild. If you are worried or are experiencing side effects, talk to your healthcare provider to help you choose a medication that works for you.
MYTH #8: I'm taking my medication, so I can eat whatever I want.
Taking medication does not eliminate the need for a healthy lifestyle. While medication can help control your high blood pressure, it is important to continue to eat healthy and enjoy regular physical activity.
Follow an eating plan that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, nuts, legumes, and low-fat dairy. Remember to limit sweetened beverages, fats, red meats, and processed meats as well. Above all, always remember to follow your healthcare provider's advice.
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