Eldon Walker, MS, RN
Cultural Endemic Diseases
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is estimated to affect one billion people worldwide. It is known as a silent killer and is classified as a persistent systolic blood pressure equal to or greater than 140 mm Hg. The prevalence (how many people have a specific disease) of hypertension increases as you age. This means that there are more people with hypertension who are above the age of 55. If you are not diagnosed with hypertension by the age of 55, there is still a 90% chance of developing the disease later in life. If you are an African American, then your chances of developing hypertension increases even more. “The 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported that 41.1% of black adults had hypertension compared to only 28.1% of white adults” (Brennan, Spettell, & Villagra, 2010) .
So how do you know if you have hypertension? Blood pressure is measured by the pressure exerted by blood against artery walls. The systolic blood pressure is the peak pressure against the walls of arteries when the heart contracts, it is also the top number of the measured blood pressure, Example: 160/x. The diastolic blood pressure is the left over pressure of the arteries during heart relaxation when the heart fills back up with blood, it is also recognized as the lower part of the of the measured blood pressure, Example: x/90. Blood pressure can be measured through an invasive procedure uses a catheter which is inserted into the artery. The catheter is connected to a transducer which measures the pressure directly out of the artery. A noninvasive procedure includes using a sphygmomanometer and a stethoscope. The noninvasive approach is done using an inflatable cuff that is placed on the upper arm. The cuff is then inflated to a pressure of 20 to 30 mm Hg above the systolic pressure which causes the blood flow to stop. The pressure in the cuff...