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Hypertension Can Strike Anyone At Any Time, Here’s How To Stay Safe

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Hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure is a persistent medical condition that affects the body’s arteries. Arteries are the blood vessels that carry blood from the heart to supply tissues with oxygen and nutrients. The two chambers present in heart called the ventricles contract with each heartbeat to push blood to the lungs and through the arteries to the body. As blood flows through these chambers, there are three main factors that affect the pressure on your artery walls.

First is the cardiac output, or the amount of blood your ventricles push out of your heart each minute. The blood pressure goes up as the cardiac input increases.

The second factor affecting your blood pressure is the blood volume, or the total amount of blood in your body. Blood pressure rises up as blood volume increases.

The third factor is resistance, that is, anything working against the flow of your blood. There are several causes for this resistance. The flexibility of the artery walls matters. Healthy arteries expand with each heartbeat to help reduce blood pressure on the wall. The diameter of the artery is another factor in resistance. The body increases the diameter of your arteries to lower the blood pressure and also reduces the diameter to raise the blood pressure. Yet another important sign is blood viscosity, or thickness. The presence of more particles such as proteins or fats increase viscosity. If the blood is thick, the pressure rises as the heart works harder to push blood through the arteries.

When your heart beats, the pressure of blood on the walls of your arteries is called “systolic pressure”. Whereas, when the heart relaxes between the beats, the pressure on the artery wall is called “diastolic pressure”. The blood pressure varies throughout the day, though it should normally be less than 120 mmHg for systolic pressure, and less than 80mmHg for diastolic pressure. In cases where the systolic pressure frequently stays above 140mmHg or the diastolic pressure stays above 90mmHg, the person is said to have high blood pressure.

The condition can weaken and damage the walls of the arteries. Minor tears in the artery walls caused by this can also attract certain substances in the blood such as cholesterol, fat and calcium to form plaque. The pressure in the arteries increases as the plaque enlarges. Blood cells can even stick to the plaque and can form solid clots.

The prevalence of hypertension is also the most common reason for cardiovascular diseases in adults. High blood pressure shows up as a condition wherein relentless force of the blood against artery walls is so high that it gradually harms the kidney other vital organs. It’s important to understand that the higher the blood pressure and the longer it’s left uncontrolled, the more severe the damage.

A newly revealed matter of concern comes in the form of a recent study by the journal Hypertension. It found that babies exposed to polluted air conditions have a risk of increased blood pressure since childhood. It also found that inhaling polluted air during pregnancy can negatively affect the cardiovascular health of the offspring during childhood. These results from the study clearly emphasise how important it is to assure reduced emissions of PM2.5 in the environment. PM2.5 particles are perilous as they are small enough to enter deep into the lungs. The main source of these particles is the burning of fossil fuels (such as coal), organic matter (including wood and grass) and most other materials, such as rubber and plastic. The exposure to unhealthy air doesn’t only increase the risk of health issues but can also pave way for disrupted and unhealthy fetal growth while increasing the chances for risks of hypertension.

When it comes to prevention for hypertension, eating the right food and exercising are some key measures that can help in keeping one fit as fiddle. One should cut down the total salt intake and avoid high sodium packaged and processed eatables. Eating a low-sodium diet can help in maintaining balanced blood pressure. Keeping a check on your blood pressure and monitoring it more often can help you spot any issues before they become serious. Keeping a track on your lifestyle habits to figure out where you can make changes to help prevent hypertension can be a healthy initiative. Snacking on fruits and vegetables instead of unhealthy junk food is something that should be a part of your daily routine. Adopting such lifestyle changes can help prevent high blood pressure and other life threatening diseases.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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