Self-medication can kill patients with hypertension

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Self-medication can kill patients with hypertension

Instead of going in for specialised treatment, Gupta started popping pills on his own whenever he felt the problem of anxiety due to hypertension.


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Published: Sun 17 May 2015, 10:07 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:29 PM

New Delhi: Ignorance can never be bliss and this is what proved fatal for 50-year-old Amit Gupta, who kept ignoring the urgency to visit a doctor despite suffering from severe high blood pressure - also known as hypertension.

Instead of going in for specialised treatment, Gupta started popping pills on his own whenever he felt the problem of anxiety due to hypertension.

Within a year, Gupta not just suffered two strokes but the blood vessel of his eyes also thickened, causing partial blindness. When he finally visited a doctor, he was told that due to consuming excess unprescribed medicines, his kidneys had almost stopped functioning. A few months after, Gupta died of renal failure.

How can raised blood pressure be prevented and treated?

All adults should have their blood pressure checked. If blood pressure is high, they need the advice of a health worker.

For some people, lifestyle changes are sufficient to control blood pressure such as stopping tobacco use, eating healthily, exercising regularly and avoiding the harmful use of alcohol. Reduction in salt intake can help. For others, these changes are insufficient and they need prescription medication to control blood pressure.

Adults can support treatment by adhering to the prescribed medication, by monitoring their health.

People with high blood pressure who also have high blood sugar or elevated blood cholesterol face even higher risk of heart attacks and stroke. Therefore it is important that regular checks for blood sugar, blood cholesterol and urine albumin take place.

Everyone can take five concrete steps to minimize the odds of developing high blood pressure and its adverse consequences.

Healthy diet:

promoting a healthy lifestyle with emphasis on proper nutrition for infants and young people;

reducing salt intake to less than 5 g of salt per day (just under a teaspoon);

eating five servings of fruit and vegetables a day;

reducing saturated and total fat intake.

Avoiding harmful use of alcohol i.e. limit intake to no more than one standard drink a day

Physical activity:

Regular physical activity and promotion of physical activity for children and young people (at least 30 minutes a day).

Maintaining a normal weight: every 5 kg of excess weight lost can reduce systolic blood pressure by 2 to 10 points.

Stopping tobacco use and exposure to tobacco products

Managing stress in healthy way such as through meditation, appropriate physical exercise, and positive social contact. - WHO

Medcial experts globally say that self-medication on many occasions can cause more harm than good. Self-medication has potential adverse interaction with prescription medication, especially in hypertension, which patients fail to understand.

“Hypertension should never be considered a minor health problem. The disease itself causes heart attacks, paralysis, renal failure, thickening of the arteries and several other diseases if ignored. A patient in such a situation should never think of self-medication,” said Pradeep Gadge, Chief Diabetologist at Mumbai’s Gadge’s Diabetes Care Centre, told IANS.

Noting several myths and misconceptions as the main reason for self-medication, Gupta said Indians are still are under the impression that it is an old age disease, that high blood pressure can be controlled with simple medication, that women are less likely to get hypertension than men and simple control of salt will protect them from the ill-effects of blood pressure.

According to the union health ministry, at least 40 per cent of the people in cities and 20 percent in rural India suffer from hypertension and the number is fast increasing due a sedentary lifestyle and rising desire to earn more in a short period.

Gagdge who is also a visiting diabetologist at Breach Candy and Seven Hills Hospital, said: “If hypertension is left untreated it can cause aneurysms, heart attacks and strokes without giving any early signs and symptoms. Hypertension isn’t usually accompanied by any symptoms, which makes it mandatory for the patients to go for a check-up atleast once in a week.”

Recent studies show that hypertension is likely to end up being an epidemic in the near future, and approximately one-third of Indias population will suffer from it by 2020. Currently it is responsible for 7.1 million global deaths annually.

Globally, South Africa has the highest number of high blood pressure patients.

Pratik Soni, senior consultant of cardiology at Mumbai-based Wockhardt Hospitals, said that hypertensive people are most of times asymptomatic and therefore it is advisable for them to get their blood pressure checked regularly especially if there is hypertension in the family or anyone is overweight.

Calling the disease a silent killer, Soni said that hypertension is no more restricted to the aged population but has started occurring among the younger ones.

“Change in the lifestyle of the youth, lack of nutritious food, steroids and oral contraceptives are among the major reasons that is causing hypertension among the young population,” Soni told IANS.

Statistics say that at least 33 per cent of the Indian population remains unaware that it is a patient of hypertension which largely includes the younger population.

Explaining the several other reasons behind self-medication, R.K. Singal, director and head of internal medicine at Delhi based B.L. Kapoor hospital, told IANS: “When a person comes to know about the problem of hypertension and blood pressure... it is very late. To avoid the expenditure on the medicines.... people start self-medication and at the end suffer from premature death and disability.”

Vipul Gupta, head of neuro-interventional surgery at Gurgaon-based Medanta Medicity, recommended that adults should not consume more than five grams of salt per day. Sodium content is high in processed commercial food and accordingly hypertensives should be cautious in consuming packaged food.

“People who are diagnosed with hypertension, apart from proper prescribed medicines, should concentrate on fruit and vegetables each day, avoid fat, limit the amount of sugar, quit smoking and most importantly reduce the stress levels and take time to relax,” Gupta told IANS.


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