Elevated blood pressure is one of the leading causes of death in the world. According to CDC, in the US alone, nearly 700 000 people are annually lead to early death due to hypertension. This number excludes the mortalities caused due to other heart-related complications which are a consequence of constantly elevated blood pressure.
Researchers have been working tirelessly to find the causes of different cardiac conditions which include cardiac conduction disease or CCD. In a recently published literature, it has been found that higher blood pressure is also one of the culprits of CCD particularly affecting the left ventricle. Let us take a look at what CCD is and how it relates to elevated blood pressure.
What is cardiac conduction disease?
The human heart has a system of conducting electrical signals through itself which are responsible for the beating of the heart due to the contraction of cardiac tissue in response to these impulses. The pathway of this electrical signal includes a passage from the sinoatrial node (S.A. node) to the atrioventricular node (A.V. node) followed by travel through the bundles of His and Purkinje fibers. This whole system is collectively known as the cardiac conduction system.
In a situation when there is a disruption of normal electrical conduction through the heart due to the delay in the cardiac signals, the condition is termed cardiac conduction disease (CCD) or heart block. The disease can further pave the way for myocardial infarction (heart attack) or cardiac arrest, both of which can be fatal.
Symptoms and effects of cardiac conduction disease
A person experiencing cardiac conduction disease may have the following symptoms:
Dizziness: One of the cardiac conduction disease symptoms
- Very slow or very fast heart rate
- Pain and discomfort in the chest region
- Troubled breathing especially during sleep
- Extreme fatigue
Possible causes of heart block
The possible causes of cardiac conduction disease include the following:
- Congenital heart defects i.e. problems with heart anatomy since birth
- Cardiomyopathy i.e. a disease of the heart muscles leading to decreased contraction
- Cardiac infarction i.e. death of the cardiac tissue
- Thromboembolism i.e. development of the blood clots
In 2023, a recent study has been published which has enlisted elevated blood pressure as one of the prime causes of cardiac conduction disease.
Relationship between blood pressure and incidence of conduction disease
A study recently published in JAMA Cardiology has argued that people who have a long history of unmanaged and uncontrolled hypertension are at a higher risk of acquiring left ventricular conduction disease. To conduct this study, the researchers Dr. E. F. Moller, MD, and Dr. G. Marcus, MD, designed a prospective study in which 3918 participants, aged above 50 with at least one heart-related condition, were divided into two groups. In one group, the individuals had to intensively control their high blood pressure while in the second group, this control was to be taken less aggressively. At the end of the assigned period between November 2010 and August 2015, the individuals from both groups were tested for their risk of getting left ventricular conduction disease by employing the multicenter Systolic Blood Pressure Intervention Trial (SPRINT), and the results were analyzed.
The findings indicated are direct proportionality between blood pressure control and the risk of getting L.V. conduction disease. It meant that the people who have controlled blood pressure have healthier hearts and intact cardiac tissue as compared to those whose B.P. usually exceeds the normal range. This leads to a lessened chance of getting a conduction disease particularly that of the left ventricle.
Management of hypertension
To avoid the complications associated with high B.P., it is important to manage your hypertension. The aim is to lower the blood pressure up to a point where it starts falling between the normal ranges. For this purpose, the following measures should be adopted:
- Weight loss: Higher than normal weight or obesity is one of the leading causes of hypertension. More weight is often associated with a greater amount of body fat which gets its way into the blood vessels thus raising the blood pressure. By maintaining a healthy weight, it is easy to control your B.P.
- Healthier diet: Eating a healthier diet is the key to a healthier body as well as heart. Avoid eating too many fatty foods, include fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet, and eat when you feel hungry. By avoiding overeating and consumption of a healthier diet, the management of high blood pressure becomes easy.
Foods that can lower your blood pressure
- Take in a good sleep: A constantly disturbed sleep has been found to modify the chemistry of our blood. Multiple parameters of our body are subjected to higher risk when we do not sleep for 7 to 8 hours at night, one of which is our blood pressure. Sleep-deprived individuals are more likely to consume higher amounts of caffeine to stay alert throughout the day which renders their blood pressure elevated. Thus taking in a good amount of sleep and cutting on that caffeine leads to a healthier life.
- Stay away from smoking: A well-known fact about smoking is that it negatively affects blood pressure by hardening the blood vessels. As a result, the B.P. of an individual exceeds the normal set point. Thus in order to maintain a normal B.P., it is essential to quit smoking.
- Avoid stress: Stress is one the prominent factors in our lives today which affects multiple aspects of our health including our cardiac health. Constant stress can lead to constantly elevated blood pressure which ultimately leads to poor heart health. Steps must be taken to effectively manage stress in your life which will give far-reaching health benefits.
Hypertension is not only a leading cause of death by itself but also a precursor which results in the development of other heart diseases. A recent study has indicated that elevated blood pressure is strongly associated with an increased risk of cardiac conduction disease. Hypertension weakens the heart muscles, especially those of the left ventricles, and results in the delay or disruption in cardiac conduction. However, with a well-maintained weight, healthier diet, and quality lifestyle, it becomes easy to manage blood pressure and avoid many cardiac problems.