Hypertension is one of the most common worldwide diseases afflicting humans and is a major risk factor for stroke, myocardial infarction, vascular disease, and chronic kidney disease. Despite extensive research over the past several decades, the etiology of most cases of adult hypertension is still unknown, and control of blood pressure is suboptimal in the general population. Due to the associated morbidity and mortality and cost to society, preventing and treating hypertension is an important public health challenge. Fortunately, recent advances and trials in hypertension research are leading to an increased understanding of the pathophysiology of hypertension and the promise for novel pharmacologic and interventional treatments for this widespread disease.
Many kids and teens with high blood pressure have an unhealthy lifestyle — a bad diet, excess weight, stress, and too little physical activity. So the health care provider might recommend weight loss, exercise, reduced screen time (time spent watching TV, or using a computer or mobile devices), dietary changes, and even relaxation techniques. Teens with hypertension should not smoke because it can make the long-term associated heart problems worse.
Blood pressure rises with aging and the risk of becoming hypertensive in later life is considerable. Several environmental factors influence blood pressure. High salt intake raises the blood pressure in salt sensitive individuals; lack of exercise, obesity, and depression can play a role in individual cases. The possible roles of other factors such as caffeine consumption, and vitamin D deficiency are less clear. Insulin resistance, which is common in obesity and is a component of syndrome X (or the metabolic syndrome), is also thought to contribute to hypertension. One review suggests that sugar may play an important role in hypertension and salt is just an innocent bystander.
While the lipid abnormalities seen with metabolic syndrome (low HDL, high LDL, and high triglycerides) respond nicely to weight loss and exercise, drug therapy is often required. Treatment should be aimed primarily at reducing LDL levels according to specific recommendations. Once reduced LDL targets are reached, efforts at reducing triglyceride levels and raising HDL levels should be made. Successful drug treatment usually requires treatment with a statin, a fibrate drug, or a combination of a statin with either niacin or a fibrate.
Your current healthcare provider may not end up being your future provider, but your current body is yours forever. If you undergo any blood tests or exams, ask for copies of the results so that you can keep them filed away at home. It’s essential that you know your baseline numbers and keep track of the evolution of your health throughout the course of your life.
The device being used is known as a “sphygmomanometer”, which uses an air-filled cuff wrapped around the upper arm, to obstruct the bloodflow into the arm. By releasing the air pumped into the cuff in small, incremental quantities, eventually blood is permitted to flow back into the arm, at which point, the pressure inside the cuff is measured, and which will equate to the pressure inside the arteries. This pressure, known as the systolic pressure, represents the pressure in the arteries during contraction of the heart. When the heart relaxes between beats the pressure drops, and is known as the diastolic pressure. Together, these two pressures are written as a ratio, and represents ones “blood pressure”.
In Europe hypertension occurs in about 30-45% of people as of 2013. In 1995 it was estimated that 43 million people (24% of the population) in the United States had hypertension or were taking antihypertensive medication. By 2004 this had increased to 29% and further to 32% (76 million US adults) by 2017. In 2017, with the change in definitions for hypertension, 46% of people in the United States are affected. African-American adults in the United States have among the highest rates of hypertension in the world at 44%. It is also more common in Filipino Americans and less common in US whites and Mexican Americans. Differences in hypertension rates are multifactorial and under study.
According to the Mayo Clinic, doctors may use other tests to diagnose diabetes. For example, they may conduct a fasting blood glucose test, which is a blood glucose test done after a night of fasting. While a fasting blood sugar level of less than 100 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) is normal, one that is between 100 to 125 mg/dL signals prediabetes, and a reading that reaches 126 mg/dL on two separate occasions means you have diabetes.