Hypertension is one of the most common worldwide diseases afflicting humans. Because of the associated morbidity and mortality and the cost to society, hypertension is an important public health challenge. Over the past several decades, extensive research, widespread patient education, and a concerted effort on the part of health care professionals have led to decreased mortality and morbidity rates from the multiple organ damage arising from years of untreated hypertension.
Hypertension is the most important modifiable risk factor for coronary heart disease (the leading cause of death in North America), stroke (the third leading cause), congestive heart failure, end-stage renal disease, and peripheral vascular disease. Therefore, health care professionals must not only identify and treat patients with hypertension but also promote a healthy lifestyle and preventive strategies to decrease the prevalence of hypertension in the general population.
What Is Hypertension?
Hypertension or high blood pressure is a condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is chronically elevated. With every heart beat, the heart pumps blood through the arteries to the rest of the body. Blood pressure is the force of blood that is pushing up against the walls of the blood vessels. If the pressure is too high, the heart has to work harder to pump, and this could lead to organ damage and several illnesses such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, aneurysm, or renal failure.