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High blood pressure affects 1 in 3 adults: what you do not know about this disease

PREVENTION – Nearly one in three adults suffer from high blood pressure, a chronic disease that is directly related to 13% of annual deaths worldwide. However, according to a recent Ipsos survey, very few French people know the specific characteristics of this pathology. LCI tells you how you can recognize it, who the people are who are at risk and what damage it can cause.

This is one of the most common reasons for consulting GPs. But according to an Ipsos survey for Quantum Genomics, released on Wednesday, May 15, fewer than one in two French people regularly check their blood pressure and don't know that hypertension is deadly. While one in three people is affected in France, there are also few people who declare to be preventive, to have the symptoms, to conduct the examinations to diagnose it and the health consequences.

"The results of this study show that high blood pressure is more than ever a murderer, not only silent but also little known and despite the many awareness campaigns being conducted among the general public," said Jacques Blacher, press president. from the cardiology department at the Hôtel-Dieu hospital in Paris. On the occasion of World Hypertension Day, which takes place on Friday, May 17, LCI takes stock of this more general illness than cancer or diabetes and is directly related to 13% of deaths worldwide.

Hypertension, a disease without symptoms (or almost)

High blood pressure is characterized by high blood pressure (the force exerted by the blood on the walls of the arteries). The symptoms of this chronic disease are very small, so the disease is often silent. The French Federation of Cardiology, however, mentions some warning signs, such as headache, concentration problems, dizziness, chest pain, shortness of breath, visual disturbances or ringing in the ears. She estimates that if 10 million hypertensive drugs are treated, 4 million people are not detected.

Screening is done with a bracelet and must be done at least once a year. It can be done by your doctor, your gynecologist or by occupational medicine. "If the pressure seems high, it will confirm the diagnosis by taking new measures the next day. A simple measurement is not enough to make a diagnosis of hypertension," said Valerie Olié, epidemiologist at Public Health France, we interviewed in April 2018.

Women less affected, but more serious

The cause of hypertension is unknown in 90% of the cases. However, many factors can play a role, such as sedentary lifestyle, overweight, tobacco, over-consumption of salt and an unbalanced diet in general. Certain pathologies, such as diabetes or kidney disease, certain drug treatments and age can also be among the causes of this high blood pressure. The older you get, the more you are exposed to it. Hypertension can also be hereditary.

Apart from these factors, we would not be the same as this condition. Although more than a third of men are concerned about a quarter of women, it is at home that the disease is the most devastating. According to a 2018 study by Public Health France, they would be screened and treated less well. In the course of their lives, however, they go through different periods of risk. The first is concentrated during the use of hormonal contraception with synthetic estrogens. Among women of childbearing age, 4% of women between 18 and 34 and 8% of women between 35 and 44 years old are hypertension, according to the French Federation of Cardiology. 10 to 15% of pregnancies also lead to the explanation of arterial hypertension. It is due to an imperfect development of the placenta that feeds the fetus. Finally, menopause, when women arrive and the walls of their arteries become thicker and stiffer, is also an increased risk. One in two women is affected after 65 years.

Risk of stroke, blindness or kidney disease

What are the concrete consequences? High blood pressure speeds up heart fatigue by increasing the work of the heart muscle. It will grow, become less efficient and run out, says the French Federation of Cardiology. The disease is one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke, of which it is responsible in 62% of cases. Kidney failure is also a result of hypertension due to the formation of lesions in the small vessels of the kidneys located in the kidney filter. In the same way, the vessels that flush the eyes can also be affected, leading to a risk of blindness.

A healthier lifestyle to take over the disease

High blood pressure is a chronic disease, which means that it cannot be cured. However, certain measures make it possible to artificially reduce tension, explains epidemiologist Valérie Olié. "The first steps we will take are lifestyle and nutritional measures, ie a diet with less salt and a limited number of calories. It is often necessary to try to lose weight and to have a physical activity." If this is not enough to make the blood pressure normal again, medication is needed.

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