Approximately 33% of all people in the US over the age of 20 years have hypertension, and are taking antihypertensive medications, according to a study conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.
Blood pressure is the force exerted by the blood against the walls of blood vessels, and the magnitude of this force depends on the cardiac output and the resistance of the blood vessels. Hypertension is a blood pressure higher than 140 over 90 mmHg (millimeters of mercury).
Blood pressure has a natural variation – it lowers during sleep, and rises in response to excitement, anxiety and physical activity. Elevated readings over an extended period of time, however, are contributing factors to a variety of illnesses including kidney disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
Specific causes of high blood pressure are unknown, but is most often attributed to lifestyle factors such as physical inactivity, a salt-rich diet created by processed and fatty foods, and alcohol and tobacco use.
Additional factors that contribute to a greater likelihood of hypertension include:
- Size – being overweight or obese, especially abdominal obesity
- Age – hypertension is higher in people over 60 years of age
- Race – African-American adults are at higher risk than white or Hispanic American adults
- Sex – men are more prone at younger ages while women are more prone at older ages
- Family history and chronic stress
Lifestyle changes is the most regularly initiated course of treatment for hypertension, and it can be as effective as drug treatment with the added advantage of positive effects on heart health.
The Premier Point Approach
Premier Point clinicians rely heavily on communication and education to help patients understand and manage behaviors that lead to hypertension. Our patients are provided with a blood pressure monitor (if one is not available in the home), taught how to properly take their blood pressure, and the importance of establishing a daily blood pressure log for review during appointments with their primary physician.
Based upon each patient’s specific diagnosis, identified contributing factors, and course of treatment prescribed by the primary physician, care plans can include:
- Working with patients to make necessary dietary adjustments
- Coordinate with physical therapist to establish an exercise program and/or weight control techniques
- Teaching patients how to manage elevated blood pressure readings
- Educating patients on the hazards of smoking and excessive drinking
- Helping patients to establish a routine for taking medications, and facilitating referrals to medical social workers to assist patients having difficulty securing prescribed medications due to cost and other related factors
Helping our patients to quickly adopt lifestyle changes, providing them with the necessary tools at the onset of treatment to monitor their blood pressure, and teaching them how to identify the activities that positively and negatively affect their blood pressure has resulted in significantly lower hospital readmission rates for our hypertension patients, which translates to lower overall costs and happier, healthier lives – that’s the Premier Point difference.