The human body is composed of several systems of organs with each of these systems having specific functions to perform. There are diseases which affect the body system organs thereby leading to the inability for the organs to perform their roles appropriately. One such disease that will be considered in this paper is hypertension. Hypertension is also referred to as high blood pressure and it is a condition by which the blood that flows in the vessels having elevated pressure. This therefore forces that heart to pump the blood at a higher speed. As a result of this, the organs can be easily damaged and even heart failure can occur. This paper will focus on: symptoms and features of the disease, with particular reference to the effects of the disease on the organ system, organs and tissues it affects most directly. Finally, the paper will consider the methods used in diagnosis and how the disease is treated.
Hypertension is classified into two categories. There is primary hypertension and secondary hypertension. Primary hypertension results from conditions that can not have medical explanation and this case is responsible for 90-95 percent cases of the disease (Papadakis & McPhee 2008). On the other hand, secondary hypertension results from other conditions affecting the body like in the case of kidney disorder, endocrine failure and heart infection. In both cases patients exhibit hypertensive encephalopathy (Pierdomenico et al. 2009). This is a condition whereby congestion occurs in many small blood vessels as a result of increased blood pressure; patients with this condition have headache, vomit, and appear drowsy and confused. The blood pressure of a normal person is considered to be below 120/80, whereby 120 refers to the systolic measurement while as 80 refers to diastolic measurement which is the lowest blood pressure in the arteries. Patients whose blood pressure exceeds 140/90 are therefore classified as having high blood pressure.
Pathophysiology of the disease
Conditions that lead to secondary hypertension are fully known. It is usually known that cardiac output goes high during the early stage of this disease. On the other hand, the total periphery resistance (TPR) remains at the normal level. Consequently, as the disease grows, cardiac output falls down to the normal level while the total periphery resistance continues to increase. These conditions can be explained using different theoretical perspectives. Firstly, when kidneys fail to excrete sodium; natriuretic factors like Atrial Natriuretic Factor are secreted with the aim of promoting the excretion of salts. Such an activity is associated with side effects like the case of increase in total periphery resistance. Secondly, Oke & Bandele (2004) identified that “an overactive Renin-angiotensin system leads to vasoconstriction and retention of sodium and water” (p. 1223). Therefore, due to the increase of the blood volume, the pressure of the blood is also expected to rise. Finally, hypertension is also likely to affect people whose family histories have people with hypertension since the disease is heritable and also polygenic.
Causes or Risk factors for the disease
There is no specific cause of hypertension.. Since there are no direct causes of the disease, there are such risk factors to this disease. These factors result from mostly body intakes and dietary considerations. Such factors are:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Lack of physical activity
- Taking a lot of salts (sodium sensitivity)
- Insufficient consumption of magnesium potassium, and calcium
- Lack of vitamin D
- Consumption of a lot of alcohol
- Medicines like birth-control pills
- Chronic kidney disease
- Endocrine failure
Prevalence of the disease
Essential hypertension is the most common hypertension to people with about 90-95% of the cases attributed to this type of hypertension. Secondary hypertension results from some known causes and is not very common; it is responsible for causing the remaining 5-10 percent cases of the disease (Chobanian et al. 2003). The disease is very common in adults than in children. Since the disease may take along time for the symptoms to manifest themselves, 33% of the people with hypertension do not know their status due to ignorance. For instance, in the United States, 73 percent of adults have hypertension while about 2 million teenagers and children are diagnosed with this disease.
Diagnosis of the disease
Health professionals who diagnose hypertension use an instrument called sphygmomanometer to measure the blood pressure. This is followed by recording systolic and diastolic measures which are in turn compared with chart values in order to determine the differences (Sagnella & Swift 2006). Patients whose systolic and diastolic values are recorded to be above 140/90 are considered as having hypertension. However, since the blood pressure of a patient may be affected by other factors like stress, a physician is supposed to explore other methods of diagnosis. One such method is to conduct a physical examination of the patient and an enquiry of the family history of a patient. It is also an important consideration for the physician to determine if a patient could be having risk factors that are associated with hypertension. When the test for hypertension seems reasonable, electrocardiograms (EKG) and echocardiograms tests are conducted so as to determine the electrical activity of the heart and also to visualize the heart physical structure. Finally, a physician can also test the blood of the patient so as to determine the presence of secondary hypertension, during this test the blood sugar and cholesterol levels are also measured (Pierdomenico et al. 2009).
Treatment of the disease
The treatment of hypertension involves the lowering of a patient’s blood pressure to be lower than 140/90. This treatment is very useful in that it can help to lower the presence of risk factors like heart attack and also heart failure. The treatment of hypertension can be both medical and also by lowering the levels of risk factors or a combination of the two approaches. The change in lifestyle is important in treating hypertension and it involves lifestyle changes like eating health diets, quitting smoking and alcohol taking, reduction of sodium intake and engaging in physical exercises (Segura & Ruilope 2007). Chobanian (2003) identified drugs like “ACE inhibitors, ARB drugs, beta-blockers, diuretics, calcium channel blockers, alpha-blockers, and peripheral vasodilators” as the medical drugs used to treat hypertension. These medications should be provided as combinations but this may also vary depending on the conditions of the patient. Finally, it is advisable a patient to continue with medical checkups even after the blood pressure has been lowered.
This paper has discussed several aspects of hypertension ranging form symptoms to treatment. It has been found that primary hypertension is the most common but its cause can not be easily identified. It is therefore important for people to avoid the disease by reducing the risk factors. It was also identified that the disease cannot be easily noticed since the symptoms take time to manifest themselves. It the thus wise for people to undergo frequent medical check-ups so as to determine the levels of blood pressure.
Chobanian, A. et al. 2003. “Seventh report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure”. Hypertension, 42 (6): 1206–52.
Oke, D. & Bandele, E. 2004. “Misconceptions of hypertension”. Journal of the National Medical Association, 96 (9): 1221–4.
Papadakis, M. & McPhee, S. 2008. Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment 2009 (Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment). New York: McGraw-Hill Professional.
Pierdomenico, S. et al. 2009. “Prognostic Value of Different Indices of Blood Pressure Variability in Hypertensive Patients”. American Journal of Hypertension, 22 (8): 842–7.
Sagnella, G. & Swift, P. 2006. “The Renal Epithelial Sodium Channel: Genetic Heterogeneity and Implications for the Treatment of High Blood Pressure”. Current Pharmaceutical Design, 12 (14): 2221–2234.
Segura, J. & Ruilope, L. 2007. “Obesity, essential hypertension and renin-angiotensin system”. Public Health Nutrition, 10 (10A): 1151–5.