Hypertension in African-Americans in the City of Overtown Miami

A public health problem in a population at risk

High blood pressure or hypertension is a major public health concern among African-Americans residing in the city of Overtown Miami. It is an endemic condition in this segment of the Miami population (High Blood Pressure, 2015). Hypertension is usually characterized by an elevated level of blood pressure. It is a metabolic syndrome accompanied by other intrinsic and extrinsic health factors such as obesity and stroke. About 20% of the Miami population has already been diagnosed by hypertension while 50% of the obese persons suffer from high blood pressure. Hypertension may occur when blood arteries undergo some kind of resistance. The vessels consequently lose the ability to contract and dilate. When the volume of blood vessels expands, it may also interfere with effective circulation throughout the body. Currently, hypertension is a leading cause of death worldwide since it can trigger a series of other chronic diseases.

The contraction and expansion of the heart facilitates effective circulation of blood throughout the body. Consequently, blood vessels experience some degree of force when the blood is being pumped. The process is referred to as systolic blood pressure. Its normal value is 120 mmHg (millimeters of mercury). An individual is said to be hypertensive when a value of 140 or more is reached in terms of pressure. However, when the value is less than 80, it implies that the heart is at rest. When the latter is less than 90, it is categorized as a hypertensive condition (Sundström et al., 2015).

Hypertension is a major risk factor in the occurrence of other serious health conditions. Cases in point include stroke, hemorrhagic fever, acute myocardial infarction, blood aneurysm, and peripheral artery disease. Long-term failures of the kidney and heart are mainly caused by the aforementioned condition. Even moderate and increased arterial blood pressure is associated with reduced life expectancy. According to the American Heart Association, hypertension is a chronic disease that causes the greatest number of consultations in healthcare systems. The condition also presents several economic and social impacts.

The occurrence of hypertension in children and adolescents among African-Americans is common between 2% and 9% of individuals depending on age, sex, and obesity. It is also associated with the risk of suffering from long-term clinical complications. As it stands now, it is recommended that children should be taken for routine medical checks. There is need to always consult a doctor or undergo tests. However, the results should be confirmed after several visits before final diagnosis of the presence of hypertension can be established. During childhood, blood pressure increases in proportion to age. The blood pressure changes may either be systolic or diastolic and it is affected by the sex, age and height of a child. When the condition is referred to as pre-hypertension, it implies that the systolic or diastolic blood pressure is equal or greater than the 90th percentile but less than the 95th percentile (Rakotz et al., 2014). Both adults and adolescents should be diagnosed in a similar manner when suspected to be suffering from high blood pressure.

The occurrence of hypertension among newborns is rare among African-Americans living in the city of Overtown, Miami. Between 0.2% to 3% of the subjects experience the condition. In addition, it is crucial to mention that blood pressure measurement is not part of routine tests among African-American children in this city. Nonetheless, instances of high blood pressure are ubiquitous in children who have other serious pre-medical conditions. When assessing the normal blood pressure among children, aspects such as weight of the body and age should be considered.

From a patho-physiological point of view, hypertension is classified into two types. The first category is the essential or idiopathic arterial hypertension. This type of high blood pressure has no identifiable medical cause and often corresponds to 90-95% of all the diagnosed cases. In this class of hypertension, there is a marked family tendency but as in many other diseases, the possibility of heredity factors cannot be ignored in the discussion. The remaining five to ten percent corresponds to the secondary type of hypertension which is caused by other disorders affecting the kidneys, arteries, endocrine system and iatrogenic factors.

Measures of risk and prevalence rates

Hypertension is inherited from parents in 90% of the cases. In few instances, it may be caused by related diseases such as thyroid disorders and infection of the endocrine glands (like the adrenal glands). However, there are several other factors that influence blood pressure levels. These include smoking, alcohol consumption, obesity, stress, excessive intake of salt, high level of cholesterol, lack of physical exercise, diabetes and inadequate sleep (Rakotz et al., 2014). In addition to these risk factors, it is also known that the occurrence of hypertension increases with age. This is because as blood arteries age up, they are calcified and eventually lose the ability to dilate. Several less compliant blood vessels are prevalent among older people. Owing to the latter, high blood pressure is more likely to happen. For example, about 70% of African-American adults who are over 60 years have been diagnosed with the disease within the city of Overtown (High Blood Pressure, 2015).

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