Hypertension is not a disease but a risk factor that can be kept under control with lifestyle and drug therapy.
In Italy, hypertension affects almost 25% of Italians, about 12 million people, a percentage that reaches 80% if we consider the over 65s. Every year 9 million people undergo specialist examinations: lifestyles and drug treatments can control this risk factor for cardiovascular disease, also called the silent killer.
Arterial hypertension in Italy affects on average 33% of men and 31% of women of which about half are in a borderline condition in which the systolic pressure (the maximum) is between 140 and 160 mmHg and the diastolic (the minimum) is between 90 and 95 mmHg. (Source ISS).
In the elderly, 52% of men and 57% of women are hypertensive or on regular anti-hypertensive treatment. Despite the availability of different therapeutic treatments, experts say that two thirds of hypertensive patients do not adhere to therapy and do not change lifestyles, thus running the risk of major complications such as heart attack, stroke, kidney complications and premature death. It’s time to go to the doctor.
A risk to keep under control.
According to experts, hypertension is not a disease but a risk factor that can be kept under control both with lifestyles and with proper drug therapy.
“Hypertension is like a hidden and invisible sniper because the symptoms can be difficult to interpret”, explains Roberto Meazza, specialist and coordinator of the Day Service of arterial hypertension of the U.O. of Cardiovascular Medicine of the University of Milan and of the Clinical Physiology and Hypertension Center of the Polyclinic of the Lombard capital.
According to the expert, there are two signs that must be taken into consideration and lead to seek a doctor’s opinion: “The presence of a headache upon awakening which, however, passes when you get out of bed and the need to go to the bathroom several times during the night are the most characteristic symptoms of hypertension.
More than they are swollen legs and nosebleeds that people associate more frequently with high blood pressure ”, emphasizes the specialist.
The signs not to be underestimated.
“If there is no familiarity with hypertension”, says Roberto Meazza, “after the age of 40 it is advisable to measure blood pressure twice a year, every two or three months after the age of 45 and in case of doubts. Blood pressure should be measured at home if possible, with a self-assessment tool also on the wrist, placing the left wrist at heart level and resting on the right shoulder.
“It is important to relax for a few minutes before carrying out the measurement, possibly between 18.00 and 20.00 and never after eating or smoking”, continues the hypertension expert of the Policlinico di Milano who advises against measuring blood pressure at pharmacies because it could be distorted by emotional tension, by the presence of other people or by improperly calibrated instrumentation.