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Hypertension - Essay Example

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Hypertension Introduction Hypertension, or high blood pressure (BP), has been variously defined over the years with advances in the understanding of the etiology and pathophysiology of the condition. Blood pressure specifically refers to arterial blood pressure levels, with optimal levels being those that lead to minimal vascular damage…
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Download file to see previous pages BP related health conditions and comorbid conditions have been the major criteria guiding the definition of hypertension. Introduction of sphygmomanometer brought about the revelation that many of the renal, vascular and cardiac diseases are linked to elevated BP. BP is dependent on race and age, among many other factors. BP levels to be considered as elevated in comparison to normal, and the levels to be considered pathologic still remain arbitrary (Kotchen & Kotchen 2007). Prevalence of the disease To establish the prevalence of a condition, specific and precise definition of the condition is an essential prerequisite. Due to non-fulfillment of this criterion in cases of hypertension, an accurate value of prevalence is difficult to obtain. On the basis of a literature review of studies based on data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES), Crim and associates (2012) attempted to determine the prevalence of hypertension. The results indicated age-standardized prevalence rates of 28.9% to 32.1% for hypertension during the years 2003 and 2004. The prevalence rate for the same in United States during the years 2007-8 was found to be 29.8%. International data indicate a comparable or higher prevalence rates in countries other than U. S., with age dependent prevalence too being higher in European countries (Lloyd-Jones & Levy 2007). Causes or Risk factors for the disease Multiple variables including genetic, environmental, demographic and socioeconomic factors present a risk factor for hypertension (Lloyd-Jones & Levy 2007). The major risk factors are briefly described below: Age Prevalence of hypertension exhibits a steep rise with age; the rates are increasing from 9.3% in men of age group 18-34 years to 68.1% in men of age group 75 and above. Corresponding prevalence rates for women are 2.1% and 84.0% respectively. Studies have indicated age to be the most significant risk factor for hypertension and cardiovascular diseases with more than 9 out of 10 elderly people developing hypertension during their remaining life (Fields et al. 2004). 1.1 Weight The second major risk factor for hypertension is weight with prevalence rates being 42.5%, 27.8% and 15.3 % for individuals with Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 kg/m2, 25.0-29.9 kg/m2 and >25.0 kg/m2 respectively (Fields et al. 2004). Similar results have also been obtained from long-term follow-up studies such as Framingham heart study. Recent researches have, however, reported that maintaining stable BMI for long period has a positive impact on BP (Lloyd-Jones & Levy 2007). 1.2 Other Risk Factors Other risk factors noted for hypertension include gender with more men in the age below 60 vulnerable to hypertension, but trends reverse in post 60 age group. Race and diet also affect prevalence of hypertension. African-Americans are more at risk. Individuals who have high dietary intake of sodium chloride are more vulnerable than those who take higher levels of magnesium, potassium and calcium salts. Omnivores are more at risk than vegetarians. Insulin resistance, high alcohol intake, sedentary life styles are also major risk factors (Carretero & Oparil 2000). Studies have also indicated a genetic predisposition affecting vulnerability to hypertension, but further studies are required to understand this aspect of the disease (Lloyd-Jones & Le ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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