The advice of Professor Stefano Carugo, cardiologist, to counter a silent killer that is at the base of the first cause of death in Italy: cardiovascular diseases
Hypertension: a silent killer who is the main determinant of cardiovascular diseases, leading cause of death in Italy. Yet it is possible to fight it, even starting from lifestyle and diet. “After the lockdown from Covid the cardiovascular diseases they re-exploded. Today Italy has a worse cardiovascular risk profile than that of France, Spain and even the United Kingdom ”, says a Official Active Professor Stefano Carugo, cardiologist, director of the complex operating unit of Cardiology of the Milan Polyclinic and associate professor of Cardiovascular Diseases at the University of Milan.
When can we talk about hypertension?
“Hypertension is the most common cardiovascular risk factor in Italy and in the world. In our country there are about 16 million patients with high pressure, that is with values higher than 140/90 mm of mercury. The ideal valueinstead, it would be below 130/80 mm of mercury. In 90% of cases thehypertension is essential, primary, while in 10% of cases it is secondary, linked to other diseases, of which it is, so to speak, one of the symptoms. In these cases, if you find out what is the disease that causes hypertension, you can also recover from this. But in most cases it is the hypertension itself that must be treated, because it is the main determinant of stroke, heart attack and kidney failure“.
What are the symptoms of hypertension?
“We call it a silent killer, a silent killer, because very often it does not give manifestations of itself: you can have palpitations, headache, seeing spots in front of the eyes, hearing ringing in the ears: these are the most typical symptoms related toincreased blood pressure. Often, however, one does not have any symptoms and one realizes that one is hypertensive only when it has the major event, therefore a stroke, a heart attack or one kidney failure. Moreover, unfortunately, hypertension is not feared, yet today it is the most important risk factor “.
How can lifestyle affect hypertension?
“It doesn’t take much: in addition to familiarity, the main risk factors for hypertension are the smoke, l’obesity, it stress, the diabetes, a poor nutrition and the sedentary lifestyle. If Italy ranks first in Europe for cardiovascular risk, it is because in our country few exercise and follow the true Mediterranean diet, which does not mean eating pasta for lunch and dinner. We are the third country in Europe, after Spain and Greece, by number of overweight children. And if you are overweight as a child you will likely be sick in the near future. In Italy, moreover, yes smokes still a lot. It takes a lot of culture to change the lifestyle. The foods that hurt the most are those that cost less: not only the so-called junk food or junk food, but also the ‘one euro’ cheeses, for example, often rich in saturated fats ”.
What is the best diet for hypertension?
“Surely the contribution of sale, which causes water to be retained and thus causes the blood vessels to stiffen, which causes vasoconstriction and leads to an increase in pressure. But also the sugars they must be limited, because they damage the vessels in the same way as salt. Furthermore sugars and lipids or fats go to form the atherosclerotic plaques which can cause heart attack or stroke “.
What foods should be avoided in case of high blood pressure?
“The consumption of cured meats, cold cuts, packaged baked goods and snacks, cheeses, spirits, licorice, but also pasta, which should not be eaten more than once a day and at most in portions of 70-80 grams, should be reduced. Just the high consumption of pasta during the lockdown it was one of the causes, combined with a sedentary lifestyle, which led to weight gain for many Italians. Instead, vegetables, fruit, dried fruit, whole grains are preferred a low glycemic index, pomegranate juice, fish (to eat at least twice a week), legumes. Recall that a cup of latte with four biscuits has 400 kilocalories, which are burned by taking 5 thousand steps, about 5 kilometers on foot “.
How do you know if you have high blood pressure?
“It doesn’t take much: if you measure your blood pressure every day, even at home, with devices that are now available in pharmacies, you can understand if you are hypertensive. It is necessary to make at least three measurements at a distance of a few minutes from each other and then consider the last value. The measurement should be done while seated and away from meals. If it turns out you have the high pressure you have to talk to your doctor to understand the cause: if you are young it could, as we said, be secondary hypertension, due to another disease. So if the disease is discovered, hypertension can also be resolved. If this is primary or essential, the therapies can be different, but no drug works well if you don’t treat your own. lifestyle. Fare physical activity it makes our arterial vessels more elastic, improves vasodilation and therefore lowers the pressure. The advice is always to take at least ten thousand steps a day, remembering that losing 5 kg of weight is equivalent to reducing blood pressure by 5 mm of mercury. And pay attention to the stress, which affects a lot because it activates the sympathetic nervous system, increases heart rate and heartbeat, vasoconstriction and raises blood pressure. Taking some time for yourself, investing in your body, is the best way to have a less hypertensive life, metaphorically and literally “.
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