Public Health Problem Hypertension is when there is an elevated force of blood in the human body. High blood pressure virtually exists everywhere in the world and in almost every community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2016), 75 million people are inflicted with increased blood pressure levels in the United States. Unfortunately, there is no root cause or definite explanation to hypertension. In most cases, it generally develops over time and often it is common in the elderly. However, there are numerous underlying conditions that in time lead a person to develop hypertension.
Blood pressure is determined by the amount of blood the heart pumps and the amount of resistance of blood flow. Hypertension occurs in the body when there is a combination of increased blood flow through narrower arteries. This ultimately makes the heart work harder to pump blood out to the essential organs and tissues of the body and contributes to the hardening or the rupture of arteries and veins. This process is known as the silent killer because there is no immediate bodily reaction to elevated blood pressures.
According to Stanley Franklin and Nathan Wong from the Global Heart Journal (2013), hypertension was not fully understood until the Framingham Heart Study discovered that increased blood pressures heighten the risk of stroke and cardiovascular diseases. With this discovery, hypertension was classified as a chronic medical condition and certain symptoms had to be viewed as potential markers for developing the disease. Today, as reported by Theodore Kotchen from the journal Hypertension (2011), the disease is prevalent in all parts of the world with a worldwide estimate of 1 billion people urdened with the disease.
Although hypertension is prevalent across the globe and common in several cultures, the demographics of high blood pressure primarily occurs in elderly people of an age 65 years or older. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (2015), hypertension is associated with many risks factors that include aspects out of human control such as race and family history and other aspects that are under human control such as the use of tobacco, alcohol abuse, a low potassium diet, and a hi sodium diet.
Regardless of the factor, the future risks of hypertension range from increased threat to preeclampsia, coronary heart disease, cardiovascular diseases, and stroke. Even though there is no singular cause to hypertension, there a number of secondary etiological factors that have remained consistent throughout history. Self-inflicted factors that contribute to high blood pressure consist of poor lifestyle habits such as unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, smoking, and stress. How to Solve the Public Health Problem Hypertension is a complex issue that has a wide variety of causes.
It may be due to the unfortunate origin of family history or due to poor lifestyle habits. Apart from the various factors that may lead to the development of chronic high blood pressure, the article USDA Guidelines for Sodium Intake by Ella Paula (2013) highly recommends that healthy adults limit their daily sodium intake to less than 2400 milligrams. High-risk individuals such as those with diabetes, obesity, or existing heart disease should limit their sodium intake to 1500 milligrams per day.
The intervention programs established by the USDA also advocates for avoiding canned soups and prepackaged frozen dinners, and reading the nutrition labels on processed foods. An unfortunate popular choice by many college students is Cup of Noodles because of the cheap and quick accessibility of the meal. However, a single Cup of Noodles contains approximately 1400 milligrams of sodium, which already exceeds half the amount of sodium we should be consuming in a single day. Luckily enough, there are healthier alternatives of ramen noodles that contain less sodium which can be readily found in common markets.
Another way to limit the epidemic of hypertension in the US is through awareness and education. In an editorial by Daniel Jones and John Hall from the Science Volunteer (2002), public health intervention programs like the National High Blood Pressure Education Program (NHBPEP) spreads awareness and education of high blood pressure control by partnering with city health departments and local communities to develop instructive programs and activities at churches, sporting events, work settings, and civic organizations.
Educating the public brings awareness to their minds and forces them to take precautionary measures when eating fasting foods or instant noodles. The goal of the NHBPEP is to educate one member of a household so that they can implement better diet habits as a family. A cultural research study conducted by Kressin et al. in the Journal of General Internal Medicine (2007) demonstrated that AfricanAmericans tend to have higher rates of hypertension and lower rates of proper blood pressure control than any other race in the US.
This is largely due to poor medication adherence and limited access to new medications. The study evaluated racial differences in patients’ familiarity with their physicians, and their opinions on proper medication adherence by conducting series of surveys with the patients and examining personal physicianto-patient interactions. The research assessment concluded that African-American physicians were more vigilant in informing members of their community about the risks of hypertension and the importance of proper medication adherence because of the known increased risks within the population.
By having African-American health providers take a stance in educating their community about blood pressure management, the number of inflicted patients and those at a future risk in the population may be reduced. In an article by Genevieve Linton (2014), the World Health Organization (WHO) studied the global health statistics of hypertension. According to the study, Asian countries such as Taiwan, Korea, and Thailand demonstrated the lowest overall prevalence of hypertension.
This is because their diet consists of low-salt and low-fat foods that largely includes rice, vegetables, fresh fruit, and fish. Along with the diet consisting of low-salt foods, the WHO also reported that rates of stroke and heart diseases were lower than other modern countries (2014). Although the problem may not be completely eradicated in these Asian countries, the occurrence of hi blood pressure and rates of other harmful diseases is significantly decreased in comparison to other countries due to the single reason of having a low-salt foods.
Public Health in the Future According to the research study by Kressin et al. in the Journal of General Internal Medicine (2007), physician-to-patient interactions are strongly associated with proper medication adherence in the African-American community. In order to prevent the increase of hypertension due to poor lifestyle habits, it is advised that health providers actively learn more about their patients’ history and provide targeted counseling to help patients improve medication adherence. This conclusion applies to all cultural backgrounds, regardless of increased history of risks.
According to the National High Blood Pressure Education Program (2002), many foods at restaurants contain high levels of sodium and because of our frequent dining and fast-foods lifestyle, risks of over consumption of sodium may seem inevitable. Despite the reasons that over consumption of high sodium foods may be unavoidable, the NHBPEP concludes that in order to prevent the increase of hypertension, we must reduce our sodium consumption. I believe that prevention of hypertension occurs outside of a hospital or clinical setting.
Before visiting a doctor, it is every individuals self responsibility to regulate their diet by decreasing sodium consumption and eating foods high in potassium in order to avoid future health complications. Secondly, in order to further prevent the public health problem, we need to be more physically active. Because of our sedentary lifestyles, there has been an increase in obesity across the nation. To prevent future complications with hypertension, we need to set out time each week for physical activities such as aerobic exercises or participating in recreational sports.