Hypertension is also referred to as High Blood Pressure. As many as half of all US adults have High Blood Pressure without even being aware that they do. Louisiana is among the highest US states with adults 20 years and older diagnosed with this condition. Often showing no symptoms, it is a major preventable risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Hypertension is a condition in which the force of blood against the artery walls is too high. Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, but it can cause health problems if it stays high for a long time. Regular trips to the physician are the surest way to detect high blood pressure.
At the doctor’s office, one of the first of two measurements taken are your ‘top number’ or systolic pressure, which measures the pressure in your arteries when your heart beats. Your ‘bottom number’ or diastolic pressure measures the pressure in your arteries between beats. Ideal and normal blood pressure for most adults varies by age and other factors; however a good reference for adults is defined as less than 120 over less than 80. A person is defined as ‘hypertensive’ when their blood pressure is above 140/90, and is considered severe if the pressure is above 180/120.
Hypertension can often be prevented or reduced by implementing lifestyle changes such as: eating healthily, maintaining a healthy weight, taking regular exercise, only drinking alcohol in moderation and not smoking. Race, family history, stress, chronic conditions and nutrient regulation (too much sodium, too little potassium, high blood cholesterol) are risk factors for hypertension. Environmental factors such as air quality and severe housing condition become additional concerning factors as they pose greater susceptibility of a person to overall health impairment.
Within the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), the Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program (HDSPP) records report annual Hypertension hospitalization rates. The program encourages people to decrease risk factors and practicing preventative measures.
To explore and compare health data with environmental and other data, related to hypertension, click here.
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Interactive Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke