Sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits are the leading causes of hypertension among youngsters in the UAE, doctors have warned.
Hypertension (HTN or HT), also known as high blood pressure (HBP), is a long term medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated. High blood pressure is a silent disease as it usually does not cause any symptoms.
Long-term high blood pressure, however, is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, vision loss, and chronic kidney disease.
Dr Nada Al Mulla, Family Medicine Specialist in DHA, said over the last few years, a larger number of young patients have been detected with hypertension and the reasons are increase in health screenings compared to the previous years as well as an obvious change in lifestyle.
“Our parents and grandparents did not consume processed food and canned food that are high in preservatives and sodium which is one of the main triggers for hypertension. They led an active lifestyle. Today’s dependence on junk food and canned food coupled with lack of exercise is the main reason for lifestyle diseases such as hypertension,” she said during the DHA’s live Twitter Clinic.
She added that people with diabetes are more prone to developing hypertension and that the most important message to the youth is to follow a healthy lifestyle to keep these diseases at bay.
To prevent as well as manage hypertension simple steps can be taken, said Abir Askoul, Clinical Dietician at Rashid Hospital
“People should eat a diet that high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. They should limit their intake of saturated fats and trans-fats, and limit the amount of sodium in your diet.
“It is important to maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly. Tobacco cessation is vital because tobacco is a major risk factor for developing hypertension as well as several other diseases.”
Askoul added that in today’s times where stress levels are elevated it is important to manage day-to-day stress and find stress reducing strategies and lead a healthy lifestyle.
Dr Al Mulla explained that the problem is that globally the fast-food, junk food, inactive lifestyle culture is very prevalent in today’s times.
“So many patients tell us that they were aware of the hazards of sugar, of excessive salt, but they did not take it seriously, as they did not think they could get it. The next thing they know, they are admitted with high sugar levels and are diabetic for the rest of their life,” she said.
As long as people portion-control and consider such meals as treats rather than everyday meals, and lead an active lifestyle, they do not need to deprive themselves,” she added.
“However, it is important to note that all these lifestyle related diseases are interlinked and the prevention mechanism is almost the same. So our message is very clear and consistent prevention is better than cure.”