HomeHealth For YouScreening For Hypertension Is Not Just For The Elderly

Screening For Hypertension Is Not Just For The Elderly

In a 2004 National Health Survey, it was estimated that one in every four Singaporeans between the ages of 30 and 69 suffer from hypertension. This rate increases with age – less than one in 10 adults below the age of 40 have hypertension, while one in every two adults above the age of 60 are hypertensive.

Unfortunately, an estimated 40 per cent of cases remain undiagnosed, with young adults being more likely to be unaware of the diagnosis of high blood pressure.

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a condition whereby an individual has a systolic blood pressure of 140 mmHg or higher, or a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mmHg or higher. The “systolic” number is a measure of pressure in the blood vessels when the heart beats, whereas the “diastolic” number is a measure of pressure in the blood vessels between heartbeats.

Treatment for high blood pressure is the most common reason for visits to polyclinics in Singapore. If left untreated, the risks of developing heart disease and stroke kidney failure are increased.

These conditions are among the four most common causes of death in Singapore. Many individuals are unaware that under such conditions, the body is quietly damaged for years before symptoms develop. This is why hypertension is called the “silent killer”.

Untreated hypertension can also lead to eye problems and kidney damage. For 90 to 95 per cent of adults, there is no identifiable cause of high blood pressure. This form of hypertension is called primary hypertension and is generally related to lifestyle factors such as obesity, lack of exercise, a high-salt diet and smoking.

In the remaining five to 10 per cent of adults, hypertension is the result of underlying conditions such as hormonal imbalance, or kidney disease or heart disease. This is known as secondary hypertension.

Blood pressure can be measured using an inflatable arm cuff and a pressure-measuring device. Because levels tend to fluctuate, a diagnosis of hypertension is only made based on the average of two or three blood pressure readings taken on at least two different occasions. High blood pressure can be effectively controlled by medication and making modifications to a lifestyle.

Early detection and appropriate treatment of hypertension reduces the risk and onset of heart disease and stroke in patients with primary hypertension. Moreover, screening young adults can reveal underlying conditions associated with secondary hypertension and help to manage these conditions better. It has been reported that individuals with “high-normal” blood pressure, defined as 130-139mmHg systolic, 86-89 mmHg diastolic, have a risk two times higher of developing hypertension, compared to those with normal blood pressure. Even modest elevations of blood pressure during young adulthood are associated with an increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events occurring in middle age.

For these reasons, young adults over the age of 18 should be tested for hypertension at least once every two years. Annual screening is recommended for individuals with “high-normal” blood pressure and even more frequently for people with other risk factors, such as diabetes.


For more information, please click on the following:

Hypertension: A Silent Killer


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