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Essay title: Hypertension


Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure is starting to become a very common cardio vascular diagnosis. Hypertension is classified as a cardiovascular disease caused by elevated blood pressure (Mosby's, 2006, p. 923). Hypertension is more dominant for individuals that have unhealthy lifestyles and have a family history of hypertension. Hypertension is also dominant in individuals that consume more that 5.8 grams of salt per day (Makoff, 2006). Having high blood pressure may cause other health problems if it is not treated. The health problems associated with high blood pressure are dangerous and sometimes fatal. When the blood pressure of a patient rises above 120 over 80 they are medically considered to have high blood pressure (Mosby's, 2006, p. 923).

There are two types of hypertension: essential hypertension and secondary hypertension. Essential hypertension is when there is no specific cause for the increased blood pressure and the condition can not be explained (Brams, 1973, p. 96). Ninety five percent of hypertension cases are classified as essential (Makoff, 2006). Secondary hypertension is when the high blood pressure is a result of another health problem such as kidney disease or certain tumors (Brams, 1973, p. 107). Five percent of hypertension cases are classified as secondary (Makoff, 2006). Essential hypertension is caused by many health factors working together to increase blood pressure. The factors that influence essential hypertension are age, stress, ethnicity, gender, diurnal variations, medications, susceptibility, obesity, salt intake, genetics, and kidney failure (Perry and Potter, 2006, p. 599). Thirty percent of all essential hypertension cases are caused by genetic factors (Makoff, 2006).

Essential and secondary hypertensions are classified by the severity of the high blood pressure. The degrees of severity are "Class I" being mild, "Class II" being moderate, and "Class III" being severe (Brams, 1973, p. 112). A client with hypertension in the mild category, the lowest level, is at least two times more likely at risk for cardiovascular disease than a person with normal blood pressure (Perry and Potter, 2006, p. 600). The blood pressure of a person whom has severe hypertension, also known as accelerated and malignant hypertension, had their blood pressure rise to a severely elevated level in a short period of time (Perry and Potter, 2006, p. 600). The normal reading of blood pressure is 120 over 80 mm Hg. Any measurement that is more than ten above the diastolic and systolic readings is considered to be hypertensive (Makoff, 2006). Those whom have essential hypertension have an increased stiffness in their arteries and experience a lack of elasticity in the arteries as well (Makoff, 2006). Those whom have secondary hypertension experience a narrowing of the arteries that lead to the kidneys (Makoff, 2006).

Since hypertension does not have any signs or symptoms it is usually undetectable. When a case of hypertension is diagnosed it is usually found incidentally by the doctor (Perry and Potter, 2006, P. 599). The later phase of hypertension, also called malignant hypertension can cause headaches, blurred vision and end-organ damage (Mosby's, 2006, p. 924). Hypertension is classified as malignant hypertension when there is an increase of intracranial pressure, which can eventually cause health problems like papilledema (Mosby's, 2006, p. 924). Since hypertension is undetectable increasing the awareness and screening of the public is the key to early detection. Detecting hypertension early, before the critical organs get damaged can only be done by regular blood pressure checks (Makoff, 2006).

Blood pressure checks are performed by a sphygmomanometer, also known as a blood pressure cuff. The cuff is wrapped around the upper arm and inflated with air. The pressure of the cuff cuts off the flow of the brachial artery (Perry and Potter, 2006, Pp. 601-605). As the air pressure is released the health professional listens to the pulse over the artery at the front of the elbow with a stethoscope. The first pulse heard is the systolic pressure and the last pulse heard is the diastolic pressure (Perry and Potter, 2006, Pp. 601-605). There are also mechanical blood pressure devices that do not require a health professional to take the reading with a stethoscope. The mechanical blood pressure reading can be done independently where these machines are accessible to the public. Mechanical blood pressure monitors are also found in hospitals on pediatric and geriatric units (Perry and Potter, 2006, Pp. 601-605).

Hypertension can be reduced and treated with medications, diet changes, stress reduction, and changes in lifestyles (Makoff, 2006). The medications that can be prescribed to a patient that has hypertension are ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers,

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