Systemic Hypertension
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Systemic Hypertension and the Adult Patient

In more than 90% of all cases of systemic hypertension, the disorder is primary, arising from unknown sources, and cannot be cured. However, lifestyle choices may influence its development and severity. For example, obesity, the use of alcohol and tobacco (smoked or chewed), high salt intake, high cholesterol due to diet, and the use of prescription or recreational drugs may all lead to increased blood pressure.

In contrast, healthy blood pressure levels may be encouraged through regular physical activity and a diet rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium, with plenty of fruits and vegetables and low fat fish, meat, and dairy products.

In less than 10% of cases, the elevated blood pressure will be secondary, caused by such factors as diabetes, kidney disease, urinary tract obstructions, anemia, or the presence of abdominal masses.

The percentage of people with systemic hypertension increases with age. For example, less than 1% of individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 will have it, as opposed to 10% of those between the ages of 35-44, and over 75% of those over the age of 75. This age-related increase in pressure appears to be systolic rather than diastolic.

Because of the progressive nature of the effects of systemic hypertension, all persons should be examined regularly through life and receive treatment or make lifestyle changes as necessary. If untreated, even mild to moderate high blood pressure can lead to atherosclerosis or organ damage.