HYPERTENSION: WHAT DOCTORS DON’T TELL YOU
Dr Mohsin Wali, physician to the President of India, explains how to deal with the condition that can kill you silently
When Nishant Chawla (named changed on request), a 32-yearold globe-trotting businessman, walked into Dr Mohsin Wali’s clinic with a bunch of MRIs done to study his mystery headache, he had no idea that he was carrying the culprit with him, hidden in a small can. Chawla was addicted to a fizzy drink. He drank around 20 cans of the drink when he travelled. His migraine led to depression and doctors couldn’t diagonse the reason. After bouts of intolerable headaches, he smoked cigarettes. The aspartame in the drink triggered off his headache. And a chemical named Bisphenol A, used as a coating for soft drink cans, led to a rise in his blood pressure. His sedentary lifestyle made things worse. “It’s important for doctors to be observant and they must communicate with their patients. Chawla could have been saved from a lot of trouble if the doctors had bothered to take his blood pressure and notice his addiction to the drink,” says Dr Wali, whose prime responsibility, in his words, is to “keep the President fit, and find things before they happen”.
Talking about high blood pressure, or hypertension, a condition affecting a growing number of young people, Dr Wali explains that it is one of the most ill understood medical conditions. The high blood pressure level makes it difficult to be physically active, and in some cases, causes headache and redness in the eyes. If left untreated, it makes you prone to coronary heart disease and stroke.
Dr Wali says that due to the bankruptcy of communication in the medical profession, simple signs that can lead to the right diagnosis are ignored. “Patients remain clueless that they are suffering from hypertension. Communication between the doctor and the patient is minimal. Earlier, the first thing doctors did was to check the BP along with taking down the medical history of the patient. Now, they are quick to ask for an MRI. It is disastrous to ignore subtle symptoms,” he says.
Dr Wali lists up things that we must know to deal with hypertension: Know your numbers: Often, doctors such as ENT specialists don’t check the patients BP and miss cases of hypertension. Migraine due to high BP is confused with pain triggered by infected sinusitis. Patients are often turned away from the OT due to hypertension. Not checking BP regularly can lead to serious complications. It’s important to save your heart and life. Have your BP regularly checked by your doctor. Avoid taking readings yourself, as they might not be accurate. It’s not just an old age problem: Due to poor lifestyle, a growing number of young people are suffering
Many patients are turned away from the OT due to hypertension. Not checking BP regularly can lead to serious complications
DR MOHSIN WALI, PHYSICIAN TO THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA
from the condition “I did a survey of a school and the results were shocking. Out of 50, two students had high BP. They were in the age group of 15-18 years. Their parents were unaware of their condition,” says Dr Wali. Stress is your biggest enemy: Hypertension is often linked to stress. Stress leads to over-eating, junk addiction and insomnia, which makes your BP shoot up. Erratic eating habits, lack of sleep: Our lifestyle is to be blamed for most of our health problems. We often leave work at 9pm, reach home by 10pm, we are extremely tired but we still try to fix ourselves a quick meal. It’s 11 by the time we eat, and then we stare at our news feed till 1am. It’s the perfect recipe for a health disaster. Sleep deprivation is a major cause of high blood pressure and obesity.