Hypertension One of the Major Health Problems Term Paper

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One of the major health problems that the American society and the whole world experience is the prevalence of hypertension or high- blood pressure- caused illnesses or deaths in many people today. A special report made by the website Lifeclinic.com stated that almost 50 million Americans have hypertension, "1 in every 4 adults" (2002). This statistic illustrates the increasing number of people who are gradually suffering and eventually dying due to hypertension. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is defined to be the "condition which can result when the arterial diameter is reduced... And increased pressure caused by reduced diameter of the arteries plays a greater role in hypertension" (Varona 1999 46). To comprehend the concept of hypertension, a definition of blood pressure is needed. Blood pressure is defined as "the pressure of the blood flowing through the blood vessels against the vessel walls." In effect, if a high blood pressure occurs in the body, it means that more work must be done by the heart, that is the heart must pump more blood for circulation to be undisrupted (Lifeclinic.com 2002). Conversely, low blood pressure happens when the heart pumps blood flowing through the arteries at a much slower rate than the normal. Low blood pressure is a rare occurrence among people's health, and since hypertension was historically proven to be the more fatal of the two cases related to blood circulation, hypertension is now considered an immediate concern of many people regarding their health condition.

The history of when hypertension originated or first occurred was based on the "dissection of ancient Egyptian mummies," which proves that at such early times, hypertension is already an occurrence among the health of the people. In the year 1896, there was already an awareness of the said illness, which prompted people to invent the blood pressure cuff. However, greater awareness about high blood pressure occurred during the 1950s, a time when hypertension mostly happens to people of "old age" (McCann 2001). Numerous research studies have been conducted that shows the link between hypertension and the occurrence of stroke, heart attacks, heart failure, and death among American patients. This strong link became the primary reason why extensive studies were done to know further about the cause and effects of hypertension, and how this illness can be remedied earlier before an individual's conditions gets worse.

Causes and Effects of Hypertension

Scientifically speaking, hypertension starts from the circulatory system of the body. As was earlier stated, an increased pressure in the pumping of the blood through the arteries when its diameter decreases causes hypertension. In a more complex explanation of the body's function, particularly of the circulatory system, the problem of hypertension starts with the arteries of the heart. The arteries are "thick- walled vessels that carry blood from the heart" to other parts of the body. In driving out this blood, a great force is needed, and because of this, the arteries "are continually under considerable stress" (Weston 1993 63). If the constant stress that our arteries experience have increased, a narrowing of the arterial walls will occur as a result of the "degeneration of the middle coat of the artery walls" (Weston 1993 63). This results to strained pumping and flowing of the blood, which, in effect, results to a failure in proper blood and oxygen flow in the body, making it inevitable for the individual to experience shortness of breath, feeling or faintness, or even sudden death.

Once the scientific explanation the cause of hypertension in the body, outside factors that triggers the occurrence of hypertension will be discussed. Aside from the stress that the arterial walls experience inside our body, outside factors such as activities that individuals do or food and drugs that one takes inside the body are possible factors that makes it possible for hypertension to happen. Probable causes of hypertension can also be the following: (1) high sodium intake, (2) hormonal imbalances, (3) obesity, (4) improper diet, (5) unhealthy lifestyle, and (6) unknown factors. The first cause, high sodium intake, is actually researched to have caused considerable potential in the occurrence of hypertension (Varona 1999 46). Hormonal imbalances include the malfunctioning of hormonal gland called angiotensin, which id found in the enzyme renin, whose main function is to regulate blood pressure. The kidneys secrete renin, and it implies that any kidney problems invariably results to hypertension problems as well (Varona 1999 43). If the body cannot control the secretion of renin, and in turn the release of the hormone angiostensin (which regulates the amount of sodium in the body), then large amounts of sodium will be produced, which inevitably results to hypertension (Laragh 1991 460).

Obesity is also a primary factor for hypertension to happen. In fact, most of hypertension cases and health problems have something to do with obesity, which often results to improper diet and unhealthy lifestyle, factors that also contribute to hypertension. The fats that goes unburned in out bodies often disturb the body's system by clogging the passageway of the blood in the human body; when this happens, the strain the arteries happens again, making the pressure to pump blood to and fro the whole body system is needed, which results to hypertension. Eating fatty, salty, and oily foods are reflections of an improper diet, and causes obesity. In addition, eating unhealthy food paired with andunexercised' body often results to too much fat in the body, causing again, hypertension. However, there are also cases wherein the occurrence of hypertension may not be due to the factors given, and its occurrence may still be unknown or unexplainable.

If a person has hypertension, or feels that he/she has hypertension, symptoms can be felt, although these symptoms rarely happen, so it is important that a daily check-up with the doctor will be made. The symptoms of hypertension includes breathlessness, nose bleeding 9 with no apparent cause, severe headache during early morning hours, nausea accompanied by progressively worsening vision, and dizziness, especially for severe cases of hypertension (leading to possible faintness, and even death, if uncontrolled and unattended to) (Varona 1999 46). Hypertension can have several effects on the body. High blood pressure may cause sudden heart failure and attacks, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, vascular diseases, and death (Laragh 1991 460).

Hypertension Treatments

Non- Substance / Drug Treatment

Hypertension treatment can involve non- drug treatment, which is often applied to non- severe cases of hypertension. This type of treatment can be applied to individuals who have high blood pressures, but have not reached the point wherein they need drugs to regulate the conditions of their body functions. One of the most non-drug treatments of hypertension is managing one's weight. As was discussed earlier obesity has a lot to do with hypertension, and an individual should always keep track of the amount of body fat that enters one's body. For people with less severe hypertension, drugs are not needed for treatment, but losing weight is a must to control the pressures of an individual's blood flow. Eating a balanced diet, and less of sweets, fatty/oily, and salty foods, paired with regular 15- minute exercise everyday will effectively reduce a patients weight.

Three important factors are also need to be eradicated for decreasing hypertension. Thee factors are smoking, alcohol, and stress. Smoking is detrimental to one's health, most especially to the circulatory system, because the nicotine found in cigarettes "restricts blood vessels (the flow of blood in it) and raises blood pressure" (Lifeclinic.com 2002). Smoking actually increases the heartbeat rate of the smoker, causes arterial wall damage (making it less flexible for contraction or expansion while pumping blood from the heart), and actually reduces "the effectiveness of antihypertensive medications" (Lifeclinic.com 2002). Thus, smoking causes very ill effects to the body, actually reduces one's chance to recover from high blood pressure by…

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