Cardiovascular diseases happen to be the leading cause of death globally. They take approximately 17.9 million lives each year, as per World Health Organization. Such diseases are a group of disorders of the heart as well as blood vessels. They include coronary heart disease, rheumatic heart disease and other heart conditions. According to WHO, more than four out of five cardiovascular diseases deaths are due to heart attacks and strokes. But what if certain health parameters of your body are able to predict these conditions? Let us find out if blood pressure may help in predicting the risk of a heart problem, including a heart attack.
HealthShots consulted Dr Rajnish Sardana, Additional Director- Cardiology and Electrophysiology at Fortis Hospital, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, to explore the link between blood pressure and heart problems.
What is blood pressure?
Blood pressure and your heart have a strong link. When the heart contracts, it pushes the blood out with force through the blood vessels to reach all the organs and tissues. Dr Sardana explains that the lateral pressure exerted on the large blood vessels by the circulating blood is measured as the blood pressure.
Can blood pressure work as an indicator for heart problems?
We know that if the blood pressure is high or low, it can be a sign of multiple health problems. The expert says that variation in blood pressure works as an indicator of heart problems too. The normal blood pressure is 120/80mmHg (millimetres of mercury), and range of 100 to 130/60 to 85 mmHg with 130 to 140/85 to 90 being borderline high. Any person who has blood pressure variation, meaning not maintaining blood pressure under the range, will indicate the beginning of of heart problems. Blood pressure coupled with diabetes, obesity, smoking and stress will increase the chances of having heart problems.
Possible heart problems if the blood pressure is high
If a person has high blood pressure, the force by which the blood is pushed exposes the tissues and organs to high pressure. It can lead to organ damage over time, apart from damages to the blood vessels lining it and the wall itself, leading to accelerating atherosclerosis, which is the build-up of cholesterol, fats and other substances in and on the artery walls. This may lead to the risk of:
• Heart attacks
• Kidney disease
• Eye damage
Heart problems aren’t restricted to gender or age. But Dr Sardana says women are exposed to heart problems, especially after menopause. After menopause, every woman must go for regular heart check-up and ensure that she maintains a healthy lifestyle. Eating right and doing some kind of physical activity are important.
Other signs of heart disease
Apart from blood pressure, you can spot other signs of a heart attack or disease.
• Chest heaviness and tightness, especially while walking
• Breathlessness while walking
• Difficulty in lying down with coughing and breathing issues
• Swelling of legs
• Episodes of fainting
If you experience the symptoms of a heart attack or notice them in someone else, call for help as soon as possible. The sooner you get to a hospital, the sooner you can get the right treatment. It will help to reduce the amount of damage to your heart muscle. Medical experts can do some tests and find out if a heart attack is happening and accordingly decide what to do next.