Health Problems Of The Young: HypertensionDr. Nitin Gupte
Obesity And Hypertension Amongst Young People
In the two and half decades of my practice, I am coming across increasing number of young girls and boys getting overweight. The two illnesses that accompany weight gain in these young people are hypertension in both girls and boys and PCOD in girls and young women.We shall look at hypertension (high blood pressure) problem amongst young people in this post.
Recently a 14-year-old boy was brought to me by his parents. His blood pressure was 160/120 mm of Hg and weight was 76 kg at 5 ft 5 in height. The blood pressure was so high at his age that I advised his parents to get his colour doppler test done for renal artery stenosis (narrowing of the kidney artery). An urosurgeon losing weight with us also agreed that the test must be done. But the parents didn’t bother to do so. The boy did lose 9 or 10 kg and the blood pressure was more stable at 130/90 mm of Hg, which was still high for a youngster, at the end of three months. But then boy just stopped coming to me without any intimation. Our phone calls went unanswered. Believe me, this kind of negligence can also be fatal.
Prolonged hypertension damages the blood vessels and various organs of the body.
It causes hardening and thickening of the arterial walls and the narrowing of their lumen. It can lead to weakening and bulging of the arteries. This is called aneurism and such aneurisms can rupture causing grave complications.
Hypertension can cause heart attacks and strokes. Raised blood pressure causes greater resistance to the flow of the blood through the arteries and forces the heart to pump harder to circulate blood through our body, causing hypertrophy (thickening) of the heart muscle. The thickened heart muscle struggles to pump blood efficiently and eventually fails to do so, causing heart failure.
Thickening and narrowing and aneurysms of the arteries in kidneys or eyes can damage these organs can lead to renal failure and loss of vision.
Hypertension also contributes to development of the metabolic syndrome that leads to development of diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.
It can also cause circulatory problems and strokes in the brain and lead to impairment of memory and understanding and development of vascular dementia.
Normally young people with consistent hypertension must be investigated by a physician to be absolutely sure that there is no underlying cause of the condition. Most will not have one and their blood pressure will lower itself on losing weight and a little counseling of the youngster and the parents. Most will not require medication. But all precautions must be exercised.
Many such youngsters and young men and women come to join me and learn about their hypertension for the first time. This is often the case in older people too.
If your young son or daughter is overweight or obese, and especially if he or she has a big tummy, please ensure that their blood pressure is checked seriously. They must, of course, slim down as their future health is seriously compromised otherwise. If your family has a history of hypertension, diabetes and heart disease, these young people must be examined by a good physician. Please do not overlook these precautions.
This is to be remembered especially as many young people go to health clubs where they are put through heavy weight training and, in some places, mindless floor exercises. A young person, or a person of any age for that matter, with known or unknown hypertension, may suffer some serious complication when on such programs.
In reality, everyone planning to go to a gym must visit a doctor before joining, keeping it in mind that gyms do not have the skill to handle your health problems. They only provide facilities for you to use. Taking care of yourself at a gym or a health club is solely your responsibility. Most health clubs do take a written undertaking from you, absolving themselves of any responsibilities for any accident or mishap to your health.
So take good care of yourself!
Also read ‘Health Problems Of The Young: PCOD‘ on this website.
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