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Tips to fight hypertension

Deadlines, targets and the urge to succeed are an open invitation to hypertension among young professionals in India. World Hypertension Day is on May 17 and Phorum Dalal finds quirky ways to fight the condition

A frenetic pace of life, long working hours and irregular food habits are the main causes for young professionals increasingly developing high blood pressure, commonly known as hypertension.

According to a recent study, Dr VV Muthusamy, chief cardiologist and medical director of Sugapriya Hospital in Madurai and the director of World Hypertension League, says there has been a 20 per cent increase in the number of young professionals who have been diagnosed with the condition as compared to the
year 2002.

What’s the hype
Blood pressure is of two types - systolic and diastolic. While both deserve immediate care and medical assistance, fluctuations in the systolic or the high level of blood pressure causes various problems to the heart, brain, kidneys and the eyes. “While a 120 by 80 or 130 by 90 is considered normal, any figure above 140 is termed as hypertension,” explains Dr Santosh Kumar Dora, senior cardiologist, Asian Heart Institute, Mumbai.

While doctors usually prescribe isotonic exercises to strengthen muscles and improve joint mobility for hypertension patients, anything that slows down the mind and body is beneficial. “We recommend brisk walking, yoga, jogging and aerobics. Some of my patients also take up zumba,” says Dr Dora.

However, there are creative ways to keep the pressure from rising:

Dance like no one is watching
Close your eyes, and picture this: You are walking in a forest, lush with greenery, and towards a calm lake. Does this image transcend your mind into a relaxed state of mind? “This is the benefit of creative visualisation.

Dance like no one is watching

Coupled with music, which plays a powerful tool when used together with movement therapy, there are some visualising techniques and movements that can benefit hypertension patients,” explains creative movement therapist, Tripura Kashyap. Take for instance, enacting a bird flying in the sky. One can put on some soft instrumental music, spread his/her hands out and enact the soothing flight of a bird.

“Another technique is to coordinate the breath and movement. It slows one down. The movements, like in Tai Chi, are done at a slow speed, and when one is able to control his breathing, the blood pressure, in turn, drops,” she elaborates.

Another exercise, says Kashyap, is movement of hand with colourful ribbons. “When a patient holds brightly hued streamers and ribbons, it triggers a sense of joy and fun. One is able to forget all worries and bask in the calmness of the movement.”

Laugh it out
Kishore Kuvavala, founder of a laughter therapy forum at Chowpatty called Essence of Life, who conducts sessions from Monday to Friday, recommends a laughter session to control hypertension. According to him, stress is the reason for 90 per cent of your problems such as blood pressure, diabetes, insomnia, Parkinsons, AIDS and cancer.

Laugh it out

“Laughter causes the mind and body to enter a state of oneness, which results in a thoughtless state of mind. This releases the stress temporarily. Stress is caused by thoughts. On an average, we have 60,000 every day. When you laugh, you use 100 per cent of your lung function, and the intake of oxygen increases. More oxygen flows throughout the body. It is the best massage for the internal organs.”

The power of touch
Any activity that requires your complete focus and concentration helps you switch off from everyday thoughts and worries. To work on the potter’s wheel is one such activity. “You cannot work the potter’s wheel without letting go of your worries.

The power of touch

Clay therapy works around the theme of touch,” explains Chetna Mehrotra of Rangbhoomi, a creative arts academy. “When you work with clay, it rekindles your childhood memories and even the emotional psychosomatic stresses that are stored in the muscles are released,” says Mehrotra, adding that it is scientifically proven that clay therapy helps control hypertension, and even mild depression that affects women.

'There is a 20 per cent rise in hypertension'

Q. What is the increase in the number of young professionals suffering from hypertension?
A. We conducted a study over a time period of 13 months, starting last year, on hypertension and cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Dr VV Muthusamy, director of World Hypertension League, on hypertension
Dr VV Muthusamy, director of World Hypertension League, on hypertension

Compared to the figures in 2002, the percentage of young professionals developing hypertension has increased by 20 per cent. Today, even teenagers, studying in medical and engineering colleges, are being diagnosed with the condition. Young professionals are taking too much stress and combined with their irregular eating habits and sedentary lifestyle, they have become vulnerable to the condition.

Q. What is the main cause?
A. The main causes of HT are genetic, environmental or a combination of both. Junk food items and mental tension.

Q. Share five points on how to maintain blood pressure.
A. One can maintain blood pressure by jogging, brisk walking, meditating, pranayama and following some relaxation techniques. A diet comprising boiled vegetables, boiled fish and fruits is good to control the condition, too.

Dr VV Muthusamy is also the director and chief cardiologist of Sugapriya Park Hospital in Madurai

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