BP and Heart Disease

“180/110? Impossible! That can't be! I do not feel anything," a teacher-patient said after her blood pressure (BP) was checked by the doctor.

These are the usual comments we hear from our patients. We always emphasize that a hypertensive person can be ASYMPTOMATIC; not feeling nape pains, dizziness or headache does not rule out hypertension.

But numbers don’t lie. A BP that reaches 140 mmHg systolic (the higher number) and/or 90 mmHg diastolic (the lower number), already makes you hypertensive.


Hypertension prevalence in our country has been steadily on the rise from 11% in 1992 to 28% in 2013 based on the Presyon 3 survey. This is not surprising especially at the rate we have been readily embracing western lifestyle. Fast food chains and convenience stores have been thriving. Most working mothers patronize fast food and processed food. We do not need to exert so much effort to go to our destination. Some sports and games that are forms of exercise have been replaced by computer-based games.

About two-thirds of hypertensive patients will require two or more drugs for optimal BP control. If you stop taking your medicines, your BP will shoot up. Treatment of hypertension will lower our risk of heart attack, stroke, heart and kidney failure, and eye damage.

Hypertensive patients should take medications regularly to minimize complications while those who are still young and healthy should be physically active and eat the right food to prevent hypertension and reduce the risk of diseases of the blood vessels and the heart.

Lifestyle changes such as exercising, losing your excess weight, avoiding excess dietary sodium, maintaining your ideal weight and not smoking should be incorporated. A more comprehensive guide into the necessary lifestyle changes is encapsulated in the Philippine Heart Association’s (PHA) 52-100 formula which I summarized below:

5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Increased fruit and vegetable consumption from less than three to more than five servings/day results in 17% reduction in coronary heart disease (CHD) risk.

2 hours maximum recreational screen time. A 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation survey revealed that daily media exposure among eight to 18-year-olds in a typical day increased from eight hours in 1999 to 11 hours in 2009. This physical inactivity increases obesity rates. Being overweight and obesity lead to adverse metabolic effects on BP, cholesterol, triglycerides and insulin resistance.

1 hour of physical activity. Children and youth aged five to 17 should accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily. Adults aged 18–64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week or an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous-intensity activity. More active adults are less susceptible to CHD, high blood pressure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, colon and breast cancer, and depression.

0 sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB). Consumption of SSB promotes weight gain in adults and children. In cohort studies, one daily serving increment of SSBs was associated with increase in BMI in children and weight gain in adults in a year. Studies in children showed reductions in body mass index (BMI) gain when SSBs were reduced, whereas studies in adults showed increases in body weight when SSBs were added.

0 smoking. Smoking is the most common preventable risk factor for heart disease. Cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, hundreds of which are poisonous to our body. Second-hand smoke is as bad as direct cigarette smoke exposure.

Jumpstart your heart with 52-100 every day.

A person who doesn’t experience any symptoms like nape pains, dizziness or headache cannot have hypertension.

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Dr. Alex T. Junia is the President of the Philippine Heart Association 2015-2016. He is also Past President of the PHA Cebu Chapter and the Philippine College of Physicians Cebu Chapter. Dr. Junia completed his medical degree at the Cebu Institute of Medicine and finished his Fellowship in Cardiology at the Philippine Heart Center.


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