Hypertension, which is also referred to as high blood pressure, is pressure of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries that is higher than normal. Hypertension occurs when your blood pressure reaches unhealthy levels, which typically is 140/90mmHg and requires medication and/or treatment to manage. Having hypertension increases risk of stroke and heart disease, which are leading causes of death in the United States. Hypertension can be a ticking time bomb in young adults—although people may feel fine in the beginning stages of high blood pressure, down the road it can lead to heart attack, stroke, visual problems, and even kidney failure. It is important to track blood pressure regularly to prevent and manage high blood pressure. Hypertension tends to run in families, however the primary factors that lead to hypertension are being overweight, being physically inactive, eating a salt-heavy diet, and consuming alcohol. Kidney problems and endocrine disorders can also lead to high blood pressure. 47% of adults in the United States have hypertension or are taking medication for hypertension. High blood pressure is more common in men (50%) than women (44%) and more common in non-Hispanic black adults (56%) than non-Hispanic white adults (48%), non-Hispanic Asian adults (46%) or Hispanic adults (39%).
There are many risk factors for hypertension, health conditions, lifestyle behaviors, and family history. There are racial disparities in hypertension, and social determinants of health persist in being a factor in the development of hypertension. Community conditions like access to healthy foods, opportunity for exercise, education and prevention activities lead to higher risk for hypertension. Prevalence and management of high blood pressure is specifically acute in communities of color.
The American Heart Association’s AHA BP Improvement Plan provides practical, evidence-based information to improving blood pressure control for patients, by focusing equally on three critical areas: MEASURE blood pressure accurately, every time, ACT rapidly to address high blood pressure readings and PARTNER with patients, families, and communities to promote self-management and monitor progress. Funding for healthcare systems and providers should be given to identify and target modifiable social determinants of hypertension at the individual and community level. Community-based health education programs are also beneficial in improving health outcomes in patients with hypertension.