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Hypertension – The What, the Who and the How
Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 26% of the world’s population has high blood pressure, and 6% die each year. By just a rough analysis of this set of statistics, it is enough for us to conclude that hypertensive disorder is common and has a huge impact on our community and our lives, directly or indirectly.
What is hypertension? The fact is, normal blood pressure varies so much among individuals in any population that doctors do not recommend giving precise word-for-word or concrete numerical value definitions to avoid confusion. However, in Lemon’s words, hypertension is a diagnosis given by a doctor to a patient with chronically high blood pressure. Medical schools around the world have chosen a blood pressure value above which the risk of complications such as heart attack is greatly increased. Most abandoned medical textbooks suggest that if a person’s average daytime systolic blood pressure is greater than 140 mm Hg, diastolic blood pressure is greater than 90 mm Hg, the patient has at least one symptom, such as headache, and is considered hypertensive. He or she is managed under antihypertensive drugs.
What causes high blood pressure? There are many conditions that can cause high blood pressure. Events such as emotional changes, exercise, temperature and pregnancy temporarily raise blood pressure, increasing blood circulation as needed by the body, these are normal adaptive processes of the human body, or as it is scientifically termed ‘physiological’. But when blood pressure is persistently low, it does more harm than good, damaging organs such as the eyes, heart, brain and kidneys. First, persistently elevated blood pressure can be a symptom of other diseases a person may have, called ‘secondary hypertension’, examples being kidney (renal) disease, cancer, various hormonal (endocrine) disorders and steroid use. Secondary hypertension accounts for only 5% of all hypertension cases, what about the other 95%? In 95% of cases, the exact cause of high blood pressure is not well understood and therefore the condition of high blood pressure is known as a primary disease, called ‘essential hypertension’. While there is no exact cause, there are certain risk factors that are suspected to contribute to the development of essential hypertension. Among others, weight gain, high dietary salt intake, diabetes, alcohol consumption, psychological stress, lack of exercise and positive family history (presence of high blood pressure patients in the family).
Who can get essential hypertension? In short, everyone! But its prevalence is significantly higher among certain races, geographic regions, age groups, and genders. The risk is higher for people living in urban areas, with cases of hypertension being higher in people of African ethnicity than in Caucasians, and lowest in Hispanics. Middle-aged men, the elderly population, citizens of industrialized nations, post-menopausal women, white collar workers and people with the above-mentioned risk factors are more likely to develop essential hypertension. Essential hypertension is rarely diagnosed in children and adolescents.
How does high blood pressure develop? The mechanics of blood pressure fluctuations in the body are determined by three factors. First the heart, the stronger the heart contracts and the higher the heart rate, the more blood is pumped into the circulation, thus increasing the amount of blood in the arteries. The second is the condition of the blood vessels throughout the body, blood vessels especially arteries are not just rigid networks of pipes that carry blood, but they vary in size and diameter. Logically when the size and diameter of the arteries decrease, the greater the resistance to blood flow, the correct term for this is ‘increased peripheral resistance’, when this happens the pressure inevitably increases. A third volume of blood Since the body’s circulation is a closed system, any addition or subtraction of fluid will change the pressure load. An adult’s normal blood circulation is 3.5 – 4 liters; The range is actively regulated by the kidneys. High blood pressure occurs as a result of all three factors.
Finally, hypertension is a common disorder, well studied but still poorly understood. It is not an equal opportunity disorder, but everyone is at risk of getting it.
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