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According to Medline Plus (2019), as many as 1 in 3 adults in the US suffer from high blood pressure. Many people suffering from hypertension do not know they suffer from the condition, partially because it does not come with distinct warning signs. As an emerging lifestyle disease, there is an increasing need for nurses and other care practitioners to be aware of special considerations that would ensure effective diagnosis and treatment of hypertension.
Risk Factors and Special Considerations for Care Planning and Management
It is prudent for nurses and physicians to encourage regular blood pressure measurement, especially for at-risk populations. Special attention and consideration should be taken for a patient that falls within the risk population. These include older people (above 65 years). Also, men are more likely to develop hypertension before 55, and women are more likely to develop hypertension after 55 years, indicating close proximity between gender and hypertension (Khadilkar et al., 2020). Hypertension is also more prevalent and common to African Americans than other races. People with obesity also have a higher likelihood of developing high blood pressure. Stress is also a risk factor for hypertension, and so are bad lifestyle habits like eating excessive salt (or not taking enough potassium), excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, and sedentary lifestyles. A family history also increases the risk of hypertension (Bhattarai et al., 2021).
However, apart from these risk factors, there are other psycho-social considerations that nurses and care practitioners should consider before making diagnosis or treatment plans. The primary consideration is the patient attitude toward healthcare professionals and conventional medicine, which is influenced by religion, cultural differences, and previous experiences with healthcare systems (Cuevas et al., 2018). Some patients have a non-scientific perception of what causes hypertension and its risk factors. For example, more traditional Asian communities believe an energy imbalance is the cause of hypertension and hold dearly to traditional medicines. Some downright reject mental health. It is important that nurses allow them religious practice while outlaying facts that may overlap with their religious beliefs. This means nurses should incorporate culturally sensitive responses to patient queries (Cuevas et al., 2018). Other important considerations include family dynamics (hierarchy determines healthcare decision-making). It is also important to consider aspects like income that limit access to healthcare and the patient's mental health status.
The best interventions for mitigating hypertension revolve around creating awareness because the condition is a silent killer (it does not come with distinct symptoms) and affects a very large population. Community awareness campaigns that inform the public on risk factors would go a long way in achieving this end, together with encouraging lifestyle changes such as:
• Eating a healthy diet- limiting the amount of salt intake, eating foods with lower quantities of saturated & trans fats, eating plenty of vegetables & fruits, and whole grains.
• Encouraging regular exercise- two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise every week or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise weekly and strength training at least twice a week.
• Limiting alcohol consumption.
• Avoiding tobacco.
• Relaxing and managing stress.
Bhattarai, S., Tandstad, B., Shrestha, A., Karmacharya, B., & Sen, A. (2021). Socioeconomic Status and Its Relation to Hypertension in Rural Nepal. International Journal of Hypertension, 2021, 1–9.
Cuevas, A. G., Williams, D. R., & Albert, M. A. (2018). Psychosocial factors and hypertension: A review of the literature. Cardiology Clinics, 35(2), 223–230.
Khadilkar, S. V., Patel, R., & Singh, R. (2020). Considerations in the Management of Hypertension in Cerebral Vascular Diseases. Hypertension Journal, 6(2), 40–44.
Medline Plus. (2019). How to Prevent High Blood Pressure. Medlineplus.gov; National Library of Medicine.