High blood pressure is probably the most common of all health problems in adults and is the leading risk factor for heart problems. It affects about Fifty million people in the United States and an about one billion worldwide. It is more common in younger men compared with younger women, in blacks compared with whites, and in older persons. Men have higher blood pressures than women.
It is divided into two categories, the primary and secondary high blood pressure. In primary high blood pressure, the long-term increase of blood pressure results from other conditions, such as Kidney problems.
The seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High blood pressure (JNC-7) of the National Institutes of Health was published in 2003. According to the JNC-7 recommendations, a systolic pressure less than 120 mm Hg and diastolic pressure less than 80 mm Hg are normal and systolic pressures between 120 to 139 mm Hg and diastolic pressures between 80 to 89 mm Hg are considered prehypertensive. A diagnosis of hypertension is made if the systolic blood pressure is 140 mm Hg or higher or the diastolic blood pressure is 90 mm Hg or higher.
The cause of high blood pressure is really unknown but these factors have great impact on the development of hypertension:
These risk factors include family history of high blood pressure, ethnicity, and age. The inclusion of heredity as a contributing factor in the development of high blood pressure is supported by the fact that it is seen most often among persons with a family history of high blood pressure. The inherited predisposition doesn’t seem to rely on risk factors, but when present, the risk apparently is an additive. High blood pressure not only is prevalent in African Americans than whites, it is more severe, and tends to occur earlier, which often is not treated early enough. Blacks also tend to experience higher heart and kidney damage at any level of pressure compared to other ethnicity.
Lifestyle factors can give to the development of High blood pressure by combining with the other risk factors. These lifestyle factors include high sodium diet, excessive alcohol consumption. Oral contraceptive drugs may also increase blood pressure in women. Although stress can raise blood pressure temporarily, there is less evidence linking it to long-term elevations in blood pressure. Dietary fats and cholesterol are independent risk factor for heart disease, but there is no evidence that they raise blood pressure. Smoking, although not identified as primary risk factor in High blood pressure, is an independent risk factor in long-term heart disease and should be avoided and prevented.