Health Care and Hypertension

- October 14, 2015
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Hypertension, or high blood pressure as it is commonly called, is a dangerous health care issue, and can be a killer. Tens of millions of men and women, as well as some children, suffer from this malady on a daily basis; and for some, hypertension is a lifelong struggle.

Hypertension (HTN or HT), also known as high blood pressure or arterial hypertension, is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated. Blood pressure is expressed by two measurements, the systolic and diastolic pressures, which are the maximum and minimum pressures, respectively, in the arterial system.

The systolic pressure occurs when the left ventricle is most contracted; the diastolic pressure occurs when the left ventricle is most relaxed prior to the next contraction, according to JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association. The publication has a lot of info about this medical topic, and you can locate it at this site: .

According to the American Society of Hypertension, hypertension--the most prevalent cause of stroke and kidney failure--is part of a bigger disease conglomerate almost always accompanied by obesity, diabetes, kidney disease or many other co-existing problems involving lifestyle and/or genetics. More details are located at this site:

Here are some statistics provided by the Centers for Disease Control at this site :

·         Percent of adults ages 20 and over with hypertension (measured high blood pressure and/or taking antihypertensive medication): 32.5% (2011-2012).
·         Number of visits to physician offices with essential hypertension as primary diagnosis: 38.9 million.
·         Number of visits to hospital outpatient departments with essential hypertension as primary diagnosis: 3.7 million.
·         Number of deaths from essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease: 30,770.
·         Deaths per 100,000 population from essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease: 9.7.

One in three Americans are at risk for hypertension, according to the American Heart Association. Science has identified several factors that can increase your risk of developing hypertension, or high blood pressure. One big contributor is that it may be in your genes. Family history has a lot to do with your risk of hypertension. Height, hair and eye color runs in families --- so can high blood pressure. If your parents or close blood relatives have had hypertension, you are more likely to develop it, too.

You might also pass that risk factor on to your children. That's why it's important for children as well as adults to have regular blood pressure checks. You can't control heredity, but you can take steps to live a healthy life and lower your other risk factors. Lifestyle choices have allowed many people with a strong family history of HBP (hypertension/high blood pressure) to avoid it themselves.  Much more detail can be found at this site: .

You'll likely have your blood pressure taken as part of a routine doctor's appointment. Ask your doctor for a blood pressure reading at least every two years starting at age 18, according to the Mayo Clinic. Blood pressure generally should be checked in both arms to determine if there is a difference. Your doctor will likely recommend more frequent readings if you've already been diagnosed with high blood pressure or other risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Children age 3 and older will usually have blood pressure measured as a part of their yearly checkups.

If you don't regularly see your doctor, you may be able to get a free blood pressure screening at a health resource fair or other locations in your community. You can also find machines in some stores that will measure your blood pressure for free. Public blood pressure machines, such as those found in pharmacies, may provide helpful information about your blood pressure, but they may have some limitations.

The accuracy of these machines depends on several factors, such as a correct cuff size and proper use of the machines. More information about hypertension can be found at this website: .

According to the Cleveland Clinic, approximately 1% of Americans with hypertension are estimated to be affected by hypertensive crises. Hypertensive crisis broadly covers both hypertensive urgency and emergency. Hypertensive emergencies are more common in patients with essential hypertension (20%-30% in Caucasians and 80% in African Americans). Factors such as renal failure, heart failure, cerebrovascular accidents, and nonadherence to antihypertensive therapy are associated with hypertensive crisis. Illicit drug use is an important cause for hypertensive crisis.

One in 3 Americans over the age of 18 years suffers from hypertension. The prevalence is higher among older individuals, women and non-Hispanic blacks. The prevalence of hypertension increases progressively with age. Significant clinical data is available for review at this site:

About 72 million Americans are estimated to have high blood pressure. High blood pressure occurs more often in blacks—in 41% of black adults compared with 28% of whites and 28% of Mexican Americans. It also occurs with high frequency in people whose ancestors are from China, Japan, and other East Asian or Pacific areas (such as Koreans, Thais, Polynesians, Micronesians, Filipinos, and Maori), according to Merck.

The consequences of high blood pressure are worse for blacks. High blood pressure occurs more often in older people—in about two thirds of people aged 65 or older, compared with only about one fourth of people aged 20 to 74. People who have normal blood pressure at age 55 have a 90% risk of developing high blood pressure at some point in their life. High blood pressure is twice as common among people who are obese as among those who are not. 

In the United States, only an estimated 81% of people with high blood pressure have been diagnosed. Of people with a diagnosis of high blood pressure, about 73% receive treatment, and of the people receiving treatment, about 51% have adequately controlled blood pressure. Although many have a solution, a significant number still do not.

To many people, the word hypertension suggests excessive tension, nervousness, or stress. In medical terms, hypertension refers to high blood pressure, regardless of the cause. This site has a substantial amount of info about hypertension:  Because it usually does not cause symptoms for many years—until a vital organ is damaged—hypertension has been called "the silent killer." Here is the high level overview of hypertension as a summary:

·         Often no cause for high blood pressure can be identified, but sometimes it occurs as a result of an underlying disorder of the kidneys or a hormonal disorder.
·         Obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, stress, smoking, and excessive amounts of alcohol or salt in the diet all can play a role in the development of high blood pressure in people who have an inherited tendency to develop it.
·         In most people, high blood pressure causes no symptoms.
·         Doctors make the diagnosis after measuring blood pressure on two or more occasions.
·         People are advised to lose weight, stop smoking, and decrease the amounts of salt and fats in their diets.
·         Antihypertensive drugs are given.

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, should not be ignored. If you feel that you may be suffering from symptoms, then see your doctor. If you have hypertension, follow your physician’s directions on how to treat it or how you can get rid of it if possible. Each person needs to have a diagnosis specific to him/her, but hypertension can kill you if you’re not careful. Don’t be another statistic.

Until next time. 
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