Hypertension or arterial hypertension is a health condition characterized by high blood pressure in the arteries. According to Hekler et al (2008), hypertension is a major health concern in the United States, and despite numerous efforts being made to deal with the problem, cases of people with controlled hypertension are still few. Although millions of American citizens are diagnosed with this illness every year, research indicates that only a small number of patients are able to maintain control (Gross et al, 2013).
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Hypertension is known to be the greatest cause of stroke and coronary artery disease especially among the African American population. As noted by Fernandez et al (2011), the most vulnerable group is the African American population. Overall, close to 33% of the African American population is affected while only a small population of the White people suffers from the effects of hypertension (Gross et al, 2013). According to Moulton (2009), however, hypertension prevalence among the African Americans depends on how it is defined in different countries. Scholars have argued that the African American population suffers the most due to social, cultural and behavioral factors.
This paper looks at various issues regarding hypertension and how best health care providers can deal with the hypertension as a menace to the society. Further, it presents suggestions to address the challenges posed to all by hypertension.
As indicated earlier, the African American population is the one most hit by the problem of hypertension when compared to other ethnic groups in the United States. Hypertension prevalence among African American women in the United States stands at approximately 45.7%, while among men, it is about 43.0%. This is relatively high when compared to 31.3% among White women and 33.9% among White men (Cuffee et al, 2013). Although studies point to the fact that a thorough and strict form of treatment for hypertension is vital to contain the menace it comes along with, the African Americans beliefs and ways of life have greatly hindered efforts to treat or even control the problem. Researchers are also convinced that poor education or lack of it further aggravates the situation (Gross et al, 2013).
One factor that has contributed to failure in adhering to hypertension treatment is the economy. Apparently, economic hardships tend to discourage patients from sticking to the prescribed treatment. Due to lack of resources, patients are unable to commit themselves to attending gym sessions on a regular basis or eat healthy which are key to controlling the effects of hypertension. This is also coupled with the lack of consideration for exercising among the African Americans (Flynn et al, 2013). Generally, the eating habits of American eating are also to blame for the agony they have to undergo as a result of hypertension. A typical African American diet may comprise mostly of foods that are high in fat and very little or no fruits or vegetables. Unfortunately, the existence of fast food restaurants in numerous places in the United States makes the situation even worse. Ordinarily, these joints provide cheap alternatives that do not help the patients in their effort to deal with the challenges of hypertension.
There is also a general concern that African Americans are not in the habit of frequenting health facilities. They only seek a doctor’s appointment when things are really out of hand and the only option left is to receive advanced medical attention. Sadly though, this may happen at a time when the condition has really worsened making it extremely difficult for health practitioners to address their health problems effectively.
Although several suggestions on how to deal with hypertension have been presented, the effectiveness of control strategies across the United States is still in doubt. Suggestions made include self-management and strict adherence to medication, patients monitoring their own blood pressure, proper diet planning, and regular involvement in exercises.
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By continuously monitoring their health status, patients are better placed to effectively control hypertension. Gross (2013) also suggests that a clear channel of communication must exist between patients and physicians to facilitate smooth interaction between patients and physicians. This will create an opportunity for the physicians to get to know their patients well and to administer relevant treatment. However, to ensure that this succeeds, it is imperative that patients and family members get empowered with critical information needed to control the effects of hypertension.
Relationship between Health Issue and Target Population
As note earlier, African Americans are generally affected by hypertension due to their social, cultural, and behavioral factors. Unlike the White population, African Americans do not care much about their eating habits and will eat just about anything without giving serious thought to the repercussions. Another challenge has to do with the fact that African Americans do not frequently engage in activities that help to improve their health status. Clearly, the African Americans culture acts as a huge barrier to the control of hypertension.
For example, it is quite common for a person to witness another engaging in unhealthy activities or failing to do what is should be done to stay healthy and yet say nothing. Although this may be thought of as being respectful to some extent, it does not help much in the recovery process. On the contrary, White people tend to speak against such things with so much resentment that one will be left with no option but to change and behave otherwise.
It is also imperative to encourage patients of African American origin to be more proactive when dealing with hypertension cases and to be fully engaged in activities that lead to real change. They should be taught the importance of regular exercise and why they should embrace healthy dietary habits. Empowering patients in this manner will compel them to be more engaged and to take control of their lives.
As has already been explained, family members can be very instrumental in assisting their relatives to deal with the problem of hypertension (Flynn et al, 2013). They can offer help by ensuring that they supply patients with a healthy diet, and assist them to desist from unhealthy practices such as smoking and eating of junk foods. They may also engage patients in hypertension health discussion with a view to helping them understand their conditions better.
One of the challenges that has been encountered by most health care providers is not knowing how best to take care of the needs of the patients. Efforts have been made regarding this to prepare health care providers with vital skills needed to address the concerns raised by patients (Kronish et al, 2012). Attempts have also been made to understand the beliefs held by patients in order to come up with effective strategies of helping them. Hekler et al (2008) also suggested that patients can apply commonsense in understanding how to deal with hypertension. Using sound judgment, patients should be able to discern good from bad and keep themselves safe.
Support systems may also be established consisting of family members and close friends who can provide encouragement and advice to patients when necessary. Ostensibly, these are the very people who understand the patients well and can provide reliable information toward the treatment of hypertension conditions. According to Flynn et al (2013), family members admitted to taking an active role in helping patients stick to the treatment requirements. They would at times be involved in making sure that patients take the right diet, have the right attitude toward their conditions, and are well equipped with relevant information.
According to Moulton (2009), the main reason for treating hypertensions is to reduce chances of one having a heart attack, kidney failure or stroke. It is thus important for African Americans take a keen interest in their health. They should be encouraged to observe their eating habits and to be involved in activities that lead to better health.
Generally, adherence to hypertension treatment is influenced by a number of factors including support from family members and friends, a good understanding of what hypertension treatment involves, a smooth flow of communication between the patient and the physician, and effectively monitoring progress.
Most patients tend to suffer due to lack of information which translates to not knowing what to do when faced with a challenge. Educating patients may thus play a vital role in ensuring that they understand their condition fully. Health care providers should also be well equipped to address the needs of patients.
Cuffee, Y. L., Hargraves, J. L., Rosal, M., Briesacher, B. A., Schoenthaler, A., Person, S., Hullett, S. & Allison, J. (2013). Reported Racial Discrimination, Trust in Physicians, and Medication Adherence Among Inner-City African Americans With Hypertension. American Journal of Public Health, 103 (11): 55 – 63.
Fernandez, S., Tobin, J. N., Cassells, A., Diaz-Gloster, M., Kalida, C. and Ogedegbe, G. (2011). The Counseling African Americans to Control Hypertension (CAATCH) Trial: Baseline Demographic, Clinical, Psychosocial, and Behavioral Characteristics. Implementation of Science, 6 (100): 1 – 13.
Flynn et al (2013). Facilitators and Barriers to Hypertension Self-Management in Urban African Americans: Perspectives of Patients and Family Members. Patient Preference and Adherence, 7: 741 – 749.
Gross, B., Anderson, E. F., Busby, S., Frith, K.H. and Panco, C. E. (2013). Using Culturally Sensitive Education to Improve Adherence with Anti-Hypertension Regimen. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 20 (2): 75 – 80.
Hekler, E. B., Lambert, J., Leventhal, E., Leventhal, H., Jahn, E. and Contrada, R. J. (2008). Commonsense Illness Beliefs, Adherence Behaviors, and Hypertension Control among African Americans. J Behav Med, 31:391 – 400.
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Kronish, I. M., Leventhal, H., Horowitz, C. R. (2012). Understanding Minority Patients’ Beliefs about Hypertension to Reduce Gaps in Communication between Patients and Clinicians. The Journal of Clinical Hypertension, 14 (1): 38 – 45.
Moulton, S. A. (2009). Hypertension in African Americans and its Related Chronic Diseases. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 16 (4): 165 – 171.