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Hypertension affecting youth, doctors warn

In recent years, an increasing number of younger patients are being diagnosed with hypertension, a top health official at the Dubai Health Authority, DHA, said. Hypertension (HTN or HT), also known as high blood pressure, 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. 

Speaking during the health authority’s live Twitter Clinic, Dr. Nada Al Mulla, Family Medicine Specialist in DHA, said that a larger number of young patients are being detected with hypertension, due largely to a change in lifestyles. 

"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 foods, coupled with a lack of exercise, is the main reason for lifestyle diseases such as hypertension," she said. 

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. 

Also, Abir Askoul, Clinical Dietitian at Rashid Hospital, said that simple steps can be taken to prevent, as well as manage, hypertension. 

"People should eat a diet that is 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 their 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," she said. 

Askoul added that in today’s world when stress levels are elevated, it is important to manage day-to-day stress and find stress-reducing strategies to lead a healthy life. 

Further explaining the issue, Dr. Al Mulla said, "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 excessive sugar and 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 lives. 

"As long as people portion-control and consider such meals as treats, rather than every-day meals, and lead an active lifestyle, they do not need to deprive themselves. 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 the cure," she added. 

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