Understanding HYPERTENSION (High Blood Pressure): A Research Paper
HYPERTENSION: High Blood Pressure
Understanding Hypertension: A Research Paper
Since the beginning of time, man has been constantly looking for ways to improve his heart, mind, and body. He has tried using the plants and animals around him to guarantee not only his survival but also his long life. He has carefully observed nature and animals which have long life spans and has studied their physiology and biology in order to concoct the best remedy to his ailments and further his mortal existence. These sicknesses are the main stumbling blocks to man’s happiness as they hinder his growth, mobility, faculty, and sometimes even his very existence. One of the worst sicknesses of man is hypertension. This illness is regarded as the worst of its kind for reasons which catch many by surprise until it takes the life out of a person. This paper is designed to show much detail about this dreaded disease, explain how it becomes such, and suggest prevention and possible solutions so that one will learn how to outwit its process of debilitating human lives and ending someone’s happy existence.
What is Hypertension?
Hypertension is also commonly known as High Blood Pressure. It is a condition where the walls of blood vessels are blocked or clogged due to the depositing of fats and other substances on the arterial walls causing the pressure to raise pushing and straining vessel walls. This condition demands for the heart work harder in pumping blood through the tight arteries. If this strain on the vessel walls continues for a specific length of time, the heart will eventually fail either with ruptured arteries and blood vessels leading to heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, or stroke. There is no specific length of time before the arteries burst or the heart totally fails and symptoms are next to impossible to identify until the condition leads to a critical point. This is the reason why it is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ (O’Brien et. al., 2007)
A 2008 medical research study in the United States (US) showed that more than 20% of the entire American population suffer from hypertension with more reported cases in men rather than women under 55 years old but women have higher cases after the said age. The study also showed that one-third of the whole US population is unaware that they are having hypertension. Highlighting this report is the part which proves that the case of hypertension is more common among African Americans than any other ethnic or racial background or group in the US (Friedwald, 2009).
Understanding hypertension entails knowing the four classifications of blood pressure. Before going to the measurement of blood pressure, it is important that the terms systole or systolic and diastole or diastolic be first explained. Systole is ‘the contraction of the heart during which blood is pumped into the arteries’ while diastole is ‘the rhythmic expansion of the chambers of the heart at each heartbeat during which they fill with blood (O’Brien et. al., 2007). Normal blood pressure is lower than 120/80 mm Hg for adults. This means that normal blood pressure has 120 systolic pressures and 80 diastolic pressures. Pre-hypertension is known to have 120 – 139 mm Hg and 80 – 89 mm Hg. Take note that people experiencing this pre-hypertension may likely have cases of hypertension at some point in their life during this stage. To further explain this, hypertension has two stages with Stage 1 hypertension having a reading of 140 – 159 mmHg systolic pressure and 90 – 99 mmHg diastolic pressure while Stage 2 has a 160/100 mm Hg or higher reading (Fisher, 2005).
How Does Hypertension Develop?
Following the explanation of what hypertension is, it will be easy to identify the two major factors which determine blood pressure. These two are the artery’s diameter for receiving blood and the amount of blood pumped by the heart. Hypertension happens when the diameter of the arteries is narrow increasing the resistance to the flow of blood. With narrow arteries, the heart must work harder to pump and circulate the same amount of blood or more blood to all the tissues of the body. Smaller arteries mean a higher rate of heart pumping; this is what causes hypertension (Friedwald, 2009).
Aside from the heart, the kidney also plays a significant role in hypertension. Kidneys help regulate blood pressure by secreting the hormone called renin. Renin causes the arteries to contract which could lead to a rise in blood pressure. They also regulate the volume of blood fluid by excreting salt into urine or retaining salt. When salt is retained in the bloodstream, the salt attracts water thereby augmenting the fluid volume of blood. With more volume of blood passing through the arteries due to the kidneys’ effort, blood pressure is increased (Fisher, 2005).
In reality, however, scientists and medical researchers are still unsure of the true causes of hypertension. Baffling for the medical field is the truth that 95percent of all hypertension cases have no solid foundation and clear-cut evidence pinpointing the exact and the same cause of the problem. This rather weird and mysterious high blood pressure case is referred to as essential hypertension of which scientists think that the cause of hypertension may be rooted in genetic factors. The remaining 5 percent of hypertension is traced to other medical problems like liver disease, kidney malfunction, medication side effects, or complications of two or more causes. This 5 percent case if referred to as secondary hypertension. Still, there are other cases of hypertension whose causes are attributed to obesity, high alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, and a high salt diet (Whelton et. al., 2002).
With hypertension symptoms seemingly impossible to trace and cannot be easily associated with, physicians rely heavily on research and medical records which show commonalities between patients suffering from the illness. These common features are vertigo, fainting episodes, altered vision, light-headedness, tinnitus or the hissing and buzzing sensation in the ears, and headaches specifically every morning felt at the back of the head. Although some physicians and medical researchers argue that these commonalities are often shared with, if not only for, anxiety, almost all physicians agree that the best methodology to identify and guarantee the sure detection and possible remediation of hypertension is only through screening (Fisher, 2005). Other additional commonalities listed by medical professionals are glucose intolerance, breathlessness, endocrine diseases, thyroid disease, visual deterioration, and obesity (O’Brien et. al., p. 2007).
Complications in Hypertension
Detecting and treating hypertension is important before it leads to more problematic conditions. When the blood vessel's inner walls are used to experiencing high blood pressure, they become inflexible. When the inner walls become hard, they are weak for the build-up of fatty deposits which is medically called atherosclerosis. The parts of the blood vessels which have become weak because of atherosclerosis often swell or balloon creating an aneurysm. The explosion or rupture in an aneurysm results in internal bleeding or hemorrhage. Both ruptured aneurysms and atherosclerosis in the brain result in stroke (Friedwald, 2009).
Hypertension makes the heart pump harder and more blood throughout the tissues of the body. This strains the heart muscles causing them to enlarge. This enlarged heart condition will eventually render it incapable of properly functioning creating pumping insufficient volume of blood. If this condition continues, soon the heart will totally fail since the heart is unable to pump the right amount of blood for the body’s needs (O’Brien et. al., 2007).
Hypertension may also damage the kidney’s small blood vessels. As more volume and higher pressure of blood are pumped into the small blood vessels of the kidney, they may eventually explode or break. A malfunction of the kidney will cause the kidney’s filtering mechanisms to also malfunction allowing more and more waste products to be mixed, carried, and deposited into the arteries walls. This condition is called uremia and if left untreated, will result in total kidney failure (Fisher, 2005)
Knowing how hypertension occurs and what it could lead to, medical doctors recommend that patients having pre-hypertension should have lifestyle and diet changes such as quitting smoking and losing weight to prevent their condition from leading to hypertension. Other methods to decrease blood pressure level is by limiting the intake of salty foods, reducing to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women for alcohol consumption, and increasing physical activities (Whelton et. al., 2002). For those with Stage 1 and 2 hypertension cases, physicians usually prescribe lifestyle and diet changes plus intake of one or more anti-hypertensive drugs. Such drugs like diuretics reduce the amount of bloodstream fluid and relieve pressure on the walls of blood vessels by promoting water and excess salt excretion. ACE inhibitors stop the narrowing of the walls of blood vessels to regulate blood pressure. Beta-blockers reduce the amount of blood the heart pumps and the heart rate. Calcium channel blockers relax the blood vessels and slow the heart rate. Medical studies have shown that using two instead of a single anti-hypertensive is more effective at reaching even lower than 140/90 mm Hg blood pressure (Friedwald, 2009).
Considering that hypertension is one of the most dangerous diseases because it is almost impossible to detect early and that the causes are often mistaken as symptoms of other diseases, the best and only way to deal with it then is prevention. Nothing beats clean living and a healthy lifestyle. If a person balances the allotted 24/7 to rest, work, hygiene, and recreation, there will definitely be fewer cases of hypertension. If people are aware that they are all prone to such disorders even in their milder version, then it will be best to follow the quick guides for healthy living. As a matter of fact, many of the prevention tips are pure common sense. Having a healthy diet (less salty and fatty foods) is something that should not even be told to do; it must be a built-in self-instructed and instinctive process. Next, no one should even wait to be told to have much sleep or rest; that is totally a no-brainer. Obesity is a condition that is automatically associated with other health problems so linking it with hypertension is nothing special. Notice that much of the information about high blood pressure stems from information that when systematically studied will only reveal that they are attached to it with or without supporting medical pieces of evidence. However, one must never downsize the reality that hypertension for it really has the capacity to take someone’s life. In a nutshell, it will not require Einstein’s intellect to understand hypertension and the methodologies which will guarantee one’s freedom from it; it only requires a willing mind and heart to follow simple suggestions of the human body such as rest, proper diet, and hygiene.
Fisher ND, Williams GH (2005). "Hypertensive vascular disease". In Kasper DL, Braunwald E, Fauci AS, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine (16th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw-Hill. pp. 1463–1481.
Friedwald, Vincent. (2009). “Coping with High Blood Pressure.” Encarta Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation Inc., Vol. 3. N.p.
O'Brien, Eoin; Beevers, D. G.; Lip, Gregory Y. H. (2007). ABC of hypertension. London: BMJ Books. pp. 12 – 34.
Whelton PK, He J, Appel LJ, Cutler JA, Havas S, Kotchen TA et al. (2002). "Primary prevention of hypertension: Clinical and public health advisory from The National High Blood Pressure Education Program". JAMA288 (15): 1882–1888.