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High Blood Pressure: The Dangers and Men's Risk Factors

psychiatrist, sexologist, psychotherapist
  • Published:
    28 August 2023
  • Updated:
    15 January 2024
High Blood Pressure

There are 1.28 billion people on the planet with hypertension. You may be among them.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 700 million people are living with untreated hypertension, according to the first comprehensive analysis of global trends in the prevalence, detection, treatment, and control of hypertension, led by Imperial College London and WHO.

What Is Hypertension?

An excessive increase in blood pressure characterizes hypertension and significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular, brain, kidney, and other diseases. There has been a lot of debate about what pressure is considered normal, so the proverbial "like an astronaut" or 120/80 is no longer entirely relevant. According to WHO, the diagnosis of "hypertension" can be made when, according to blood pressure measurements taken on two different days, the value of systolic pressure ("upper") is equal to or greater than 140 mm Hg and the value of diastolic pressure ("lower") on both days is equal to or greater than 90 mm Hg.

What Is Considered Normal Blood Pressure, and When Should You See a Doctor?"

The table of blood pressure values (in mm Hg) is provided by the World Health Organization (WHO):

Range    Systolic       Diastolic    Recommended Action
Low pressure < 100 < 60 Consult a doctor
Optimal pressure 100 - 120 60 - 80 Self-monitor
Normal pressure  120 - 130 80 - 85 Self-monitor
High-normal pressure 130 - 140 85 - 90 Consult a doctor
High pressure 140 - 160 90 - 100 Consult a doctor
Excessively high pressure 160 - 180 100 - 110 Seek medical attention
Dangerously high pressure > 180 > 110 Seek emergency medical care!

Causes and Risk Factors of High Blood Pressure

Keeping an eye on your blood pressure readings is undoubtedly essential. But it is even more helpful to take preventive measures. Can the disease be prevented? Many people will answer that hypertension occurs in almost everyone as they age. This is true: the most significant and uncontrollable risk factors are age over 65, heredity, and comorbidities such as diabetes or kidney disease.

However, equally important are those risks that we can influence, namely:

  • Unhealthy diet (excessive salt intake, high content of saturated fats and trans fats in food, insufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables).
  • Insufficient physical activity.
  • Excessive body weight and obesity.

Hypertension: A Hidden Epidemic with Diagnostic and Treatment Gaps

So, on the one hand, hypertension significantly increases the risk of heart, brain, and kidney disease and is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. On the other hand, it is easily detected by measuring blood pressure (both at home and in a healthcare facility) and is well-tolerated with inexpensive medications.

So why has the number of people living with hypertension on Earth doubled to 1.28 billion since 1990? Another interesting fact is that after analyzing a massive amount of data, the researchers found that over the past 30 years, the overall incidence of hypertension in the world has changed little. Still, its burden has shifted from rich to low- and middle-income countries.

Researchers draw a sad conclusion: Although hypertension is easy to detect and relatively simple to treat, there are significant gaps in diagnosis and treatment coverage. About 580 million hypertensive people (41% of women and 51% of men) had no idea they had the disease because they had never been diagnosed. And more than half of people with hypertension (53% of women and 62% of men), or 720 million people, are not getting the treatment they need.

Why Are Men More Prone to Hypertension?

It is clear that not only doctors are to blame for the situation. It is up to the patients who do not turn to doctors and afterward ignore their recommendations. And, as can be seen from the research data, there are more men among such patients.

There are several reasons for this:

  • Secondly, they are less likely to consult doctors, considering it a weakness.
  • Thirdly, having received recommendations to take medications, they often do not follow them or do it irregularly.

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