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Latest News and Research Concerning Hypertension 2013

Hypertension is the medical term for elevated blood pressure. Blood pressure measures the force exerted against the arterial walls while the heart is pumping blood throughout the entire body. According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC, 2013), 67 million American adults (31%) have hypertension to varying degrees, which is a proven risk factor for conditions such as stroke, heart disease, and kidney failure. Furthermore, in excess of 350,000 Americans die each year from hypertension-related causes.
While hypertension is typically a condition more common in older individuals, it can develop in people of all ages and backgrounds. In fact, hypertension is becoming much more prevalent in younger people. Monitoring of a young patient’s high blood pressure and treatment plan are a prime example where the services of  doctors and prescription refills would be beneficial.

Study Shows Hypertension Increasing Among Children and Adolescents

Earlier this week, ScienceDaily published an article about the increase in hypertension among very young Americans. According to new research, included in an American Heart Association journal, the risk for elevated blood pressure among adolescents and children went up by 27 percent within a 13 year period. It is thought that contributing factors to this increase may include larger waistlines, higher body masses, and the dietary consumption of excess sodium.

Adults, over the age of 20 years, should have blood pressure readings less than 120/80. In children and teens, normal blood pressure varies depending on their age, gender, and height. Hypertension researcher Rosner and associates (2013) recorded "elevated" readings in children. However, the children studied could not actually be called “hypertensive,” as blood pressure readings need to be higher than normal three times in succession in order for an official diagnosis to be made.

The investigators (Rosner, 2013) made comparisons between approximately 3,200 children, aged 8 to 17 years, in 1988-1994 and around 8,300 subjects, in 1999-2008, accounting for differences in age, gender, body mass, waistline, sodium intake, and race/ethnicity between the two groups.

Study results showed the following:

• Boys were more likely to suffer from elevated blood pressure. However, the rate increased more significantly in girls from the earlier study to the later one.
• More subjects were overweight in the later study. Also, both genders, particularly girls, possessed larger waistlines.
• Those children whose body mass or waistlines were in the top 25 percent, for their age, were approximately two times as likely to have elevated blood pressure as compared to children in the bottom 25 percent.
• African-American youngsters were 28 percent more likely to have elevated blood pressure than non-Hispanic white subjects were.
• Children who consumed the largest amounts of salt had a 36 percent greater risk of elevated blood pressure than those with the lowest intake. This was noted in both studies.

High Intake of Daily Sodium Contributes to Hypertension in Children

Greater than 80 percent of patients monitored, in both studies, had a daily salt intake above 2,300 milligrams. Interestingly, fewer children in the later study had an intake of 3,450 milligrams or above. Suggested sodium intake is considered to be 1,500 mg daily.

Other research studies have shown links between excessive dietary intake of sodium and hypertension. Previous results suggested that the reduction of sodium levels, in the diets of children and adolescents, may decrease average systolic blood pressure by 1.2 mm Hg. and the average diastolic blood pressure by 1.3 mm Hg (Rosner et al., 2013).

Doing Volunteer Work Reduces the Risk of Hypertension in Older Adults

Earlier this month, ScienceDaily published another hypertension related article. It pointed out that consciously helping other people can actually help protect someone from developing high blood pressure. Newly released research indicates that older adults, who volunteer a minimum of 200 hours yearly, reduce their risk of developing hypertension by as much as 40 percent meaning that volunteer work may be just as effective as antihypertensive medications in helping to prevent this potentially deadly condition.

The purpose of this study (Carnegie Mellon University, 2013) was to ascertain if a positive lifestyle choice, such as volunteer work, could reduce the risk for certain diseases. Approximately 1,200 older American adults (51 to 91 years) were interviewed twice, once in 2006 and once in 2010. Every subject had normal blood pressure readings at the initial interview. At each session, volunteering, other social/psychological factors and blood pressure were taken into consideration.

Lower Blood Pressure by Volunteering

Results showed that individuals who claimed to do 200 volunteer hours or more, during the initial interview, were 40 percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than subjects who reported no volunteer hours when they were evaluated after four years. Specific kinds of volunteer work did not seem to be contributing factors. Rather the amount of time spent volunteering contributed to higher protection from hypertension.

Authors of this study from the Carnegie Melon University (2013) stated that participation in volunteer activities provides older individuals with social connections that they might not otherwise have. There is strong evidence suggesting that good social connections promote healthy aging thus reducing the risks for many negative health outcomes. These study results actually offer older adults an opportunity to actively do something to help remain healthy as they age.

Final Thoughts

If you have hypertension, it has never been easier to get refills on prescriptions. All you have to do is utilize the services of an doctor. The healthcare provider can treat your high blood pressure virtually.

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