Hypertension: Information, Facts and Statistics
Updated/Revised Date: 2021-07-09
Author: Disabled World | Contact us
Synopsis: Information on hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, a medical condition in which the blood pressure is chronically elevated. The American Heart Association estimates high blood pressure affects approximately one in three adults in the U.S. - 73 million people. Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke.
What is Hypertension?
Hypertension (HTN) or high blood pressure, sometimes called arterial hypertension, is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated. Blood pressure is summarized by two measurements, systolic and diastolic, which depend on whether the heart muscle is contracting (systole) or relaxed between beats (diastole). This equals the maximum and minimum pressure, respectively. There are different definitions of the normal range of blood pressure. Normal blood pressure at rest is within the range of 100 - 140 mmHg systolic (top reading) and 60 - 90 mmHg diastolic (bottom reading). High blood pressure is said to be present if it is often at or above 140/90 mmHg.
Photo of a persons arm getting their blood pressure reading taken.
In current usage, the word hypertension without a qualifier normally refers to arterial hypertension. Arteries are vessels that carry blood from the pumping heart to all the tissues and organs of the body. Hypertension can be classified either essential (primary) or secondary:
- Essential hypertension indicates that no specific medical cause can be found to explain a patient's condition.
- Secondary hypertension indicates that the high blood pressure is a result of (i.e., secondary to) another condition, such as kidney disease or tumors (pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma).
High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke so it's important to know how to lower high blood pressure.
Hypertension risk factors include obesity, drinking too much alcohol, smoking, and family history.
In individuals older than 50 years, hypertension is considered to be present when a person's systolic blood pressure is consistently 140 mm Hg or greater or when the diastolic blood pressure is consistently 90 mm Hg or greater. (see our blood pressure reading chart)
Although no specific medical cause can be determined in essential hypertension, it often has several contributing factors. These include obesity, salt sensitivity, renin homeostasis, insulin resistance, genetics, and age. Over time, the number of collagen fibers in artery and arteriole walls increases, making blood vessels stiffer. With the reduced elasticity comes a smaller cross-sectional area in systole, and so a raised mean arterial blood pressure.
Over 91% of adult hypertension has no clear cause and is therefore called essential/primary hypertension. Often, it is part of the metabolic "syndrome X" in patients with insulin resistance: it occurs in combination with diabetes mellitus (type 2), combined hyperlipidemia and central obesity.
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is an increase in blood pressure in the pulmonary artery, pulmonary vein, or pulmonary capillaries, together known as the lung vasculature, leading to shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, and other symptoms, all of which are exacerbated by exertion. Pulmonary hypertension can be a severe disease with a markedly decreased exercise tolerance and heart failure. The degree to which hypertension can be prevented depends on a number of features including:
- Current blood pressure level
- Changes in end/target organs (retina, kidney, heart - among others)
- Risk factors for cardiovascular diseases
- The age at presentation.
The American Heart Association estimates high blood pressure affects approximately one in three adults in the United States - 73 million people. High blood pressure is also estimated to affect about two million American teens and children, and the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that many are under-diagnosed. Hypertension is clearly a major public health problem.
What Causes High Blood Pressure?
A diagnosis of high or low blood pressure requires only one measurement, either systolic or diastolic, or both, to be outside the healthy range. For many people who with higher than normal blood pressure there is no obvious cause why their blood pressure is high. Some factors that may contribute to high BP include:
- Sleep apnea
- Too much salt
- Being overweight
- Lack of exercise
- Chronic kidney disease
- Adrenal and thyroid disorders
- High average alcohol consumption
- Family history of high blood pressure
Signs of high blood pressure include, headache dizziness, pounding in ears, and a bloody nose. These symptoms typically don't occur until high blood pressure has reached an advanced and even a possibly life threatening stage.
Symptoms of a Heart Attack
The heart requires blood to bring oxygen, and nutrients to its muscle tissue. The narrowing of the arteries due to blockage can cause high blood pressure. If this blockage occurs in the arteries of the heart, coronary arteries, heart muscle damage can occur, resulting in a heart attack.
Some heart attacks are sudden and intense, however most heart attacks start slowly with mild pain and discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. Shortness of breath may occur, as well as nausea, or lightheadedness. It is vital to get help immediately if any of these symptoms occur.
Blood Pressure Medications
There are several types of blood pressure medications and if one doesn't work, then ask your doctor to switch to another until your blood pressure becomes stable.
- Adalat: A dihydropyridine calcium blocker. It is mostly used for treating hypertension and Angina Pectoris. Other conditions that benefit from Adalat are Raynaud's phenomenon, Tetanus and Angina Pectoris. Brand names of the drug include Procardia and Nifedical.
- Aldactone: While regularly prescribed for high-blood-pressure patients, the drug can also be prescribed along with other drugs. However, the drug is useful only for controlling, rather than curing, high blood pressure.
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of serious health problems, including heart attack and stroke.
- Hypertension is rarely accompanied by any symptoms, and its identification is usually through screening, or when seeking healthcare for an unrelated problem.
- The first line of treatment for hypertension is identical to the recommended preventive lifestyle changes and includes dietary changes, physical exercise, and weight loss.
- You can have high blood pressure (hypertension) for years without any symptoms. Even without symptoms, damage to blood vessels and your heart continues and can be detected.
- The prevalence of hypertension in the United States is increasing and reached 29% in 2004.
- As of 2000, nearly one billion people or ~26% of the adult population of the world had hypertension.
- Hypertension is more common in men (though menopause tends to decrease this difference) and in those of low socioeconomic status.
- As of 2006 hypertension affects 76 million US adults (34% of the population) and African American adults have among the highest rates of hypertension in the world at 44%.
- In 1995 it was estimated that 43 million people in the United States had hypertension or were taking antihypertensive medication, almost 24% of the adult United States population.
- Rates vary markedly in different regions with rates as low as 3.4% (men) and 6.8% (women) in rural India and as high as 68.9% (men) and 72.5% (women) in Poland. In Europe hypertension occurs in about 30 - 45% of people as of 2013.
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Cite This Page (APA): Disabled World. (2021, July 9). Hypertension: Information, Facts and Statistics. Disabled World. Retrieved January 17, 2022 from www.disabled-world.com/health/cardiovascular/hypertension/