BENGALURU: Most people think hypertension (high blood-pressure) is a malady of the old. This may have been true in the past but today, with aggressive competition in academics, young students are being diagnosed with the condition. And, the incidence of it in this age group is increasing.
The number of affected peaks during examination months. Students can be seen sporting fitness products that monitor the number of steps kept, heart rate and blood pressure.
Aryan Khanna, a student at St Joseph's School, says his ICSE exam days were "dark times". "I never thought I would have high blood-pressure. I struggled with the pressure, drinking coffee and took to smoking. I became very anxious and couldn't get a good 8-hour sleep. After the exam, I recovered immediately."
"A month later, I thought I was doing okay but started getting dizzy spells and was easily out of breath. I went to the doctor for a check-up and found out that I had hypertension".
Adil Zawahir, a student at Christ Junior College, says that unhealthy competition among students contributes to the stress. “The 10th-grade examination was one of the most stressful examinations I have taken because there was pressure from all sides. I developed hypertension and suffered from sleeplessness during exam time. One of the main reasons was scrutiny by acquaintances. Even your relatives living miles away would call and check how you are doing with the preparations. Everyone obsessed over this. My blood pressure shot up... I was well after the exams, and I know that I will never put myself through that again".
Dr. Shamanta Psychologist at Fortis hospital says that there is an increase in number of students diagnosed with hypertension around exam time. “Students tend to get overworked during this time. Parents pushing kids into spaces they may not excel in, oblivious to the physical pressure children are under. This is especially true with ICSE board students, with parents even overfeeding them. People get hypertension because their children get it.”
She says parents should relax and be approachable. "The alienation of children from parents adds to the problem," she adds.
Anxiety attacks around Class 10 Board Exams are common too. Jason Sharath, a student from Christ Junior, who experienced this, says, "I barely held myself together between all the work and the pressure from acquaintances. The work is only a part of the problem, the other part is the importance given to the examination. You grow up being told that this is the most important and deciding time of your life... it is natural that you would be stressed".
Dr Girishchandra, psychiatrist at Aster, says that anxiety attacks accompany hypertension. "In adolescents, hypertension and problems such as depression go hand in hand and one can trigger the other. During exams, children face severe anxiety that later leads to hypertension," he says.
Dr. Raghu J, who is with the Department of Internal medicine at Sakra World Hospital, says that panic attacks also rise during CBSE examinations. "Stress leads them to overeat and resort to other unhealthy habits, and these cause hypertension. Even parents experience panic attacks, anxiety and lack of sleep. This is only during exams and is temporary. But this can have a bad and lasting effect on the person. It can cause internal damages to blood vessel and lead to hypertension".