Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is often called the ‘Silent Killer’ as it damages the heart, kidney and brain without causing any symptoms, leading to disability and death. Very often, high blood pressure is only diagnosed when a person succumbs to heart attack, kidney failure, and stroke or memory impairment. It is one of the most common cardiovascular risk factors worldwide; globally, around 22% of adults aged 18 and over had raised blood pressure in the year 2014. About 29% of the adult American population has high blood pressure—that’s 1 of every 3 adults. However, only 52% of these adults have their blood pressure under control. Also, nearly 1 of 3 American adults has prehypertension—blood pressure numbers that are higher than normal, but not yet in the high blood pressure range. Unfortunately, about 1 of 5 U.S. adults with high blood pressure is unaware that they have it. The numbers are even more alarming in Bahrain; according to a recent WHO estimate, almost 43% of the adult Bahraini population either has high blood pressure or are on blood pressure medications.
In the vast majority of patients, there is no cause for high blood pressure, known as ‘essential hypertension’, however, in a small minority; particularly the young, kidney and hormonal disorders and some medications can also cause hypertension, which may also be reversible. The risk factors for essential hypertension include family history of high blood pressure, being overweight, eating too much salt, high intake of alcohol or having a sedentary life style. Hypertension often occurs in combination with diabetes, high cholesterol and sleep disorders.
While hypertension can often be treated by primary care physicians; young patients with high blood pressure, those with extremely elevated blood pressure and requiring multiple medications, or those who have been unable to find medications that work for them, may benefit from consultation with a Hypertension Specialist.
Dr. Azra Mahmud MRCPI, PhD, FBSH
(Consultant Internal Medicine & Hypertension Specialist)
Bahrain Specialist Hospital