Hypertension is one of the most common worldwide diseasesafflicting humans. Because of the associated morbidity and mortality andthe cost to society, hypertension is an important public health challenge.Over the past several decades, extensive research, widespread patienteducation, and a concerted effort on the part of health care professionalshave led to decreased mortality and morbidity rates from the multipleorgan damage arising from years of untreated hypertension.Defining abnormally high blood pressure is extremely difficult andarbitrary. Furthermore, the relationship between systemic arterialpressure and morbidity appears to be quantitative rather thanqualitative. A level for high blood pressure must be agreed upon inclinical practice for screening patients with hypertension and forinstituting diagnostic evaluation and initiating therapy. Because the riskto an individual patient may correlate with the severity of hypertension,a classification system is essential for making decisions aboutaggressiveness of treatment or therapeutic interventions.Based on recommendations of the Seventh Report of the JointNational Committee of Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatmentof High Blood Pressure (JNC VII), the classification of blood pressure(expressed in mm Hg) for adults aged 18 years or older is as follows:
Normal - Systolic lower than 120, diastolic lower than 80
Prehypertension - Systolic 120-139, diastolic 80-99
Stage 1 - Systolic 140-159, diastolic 90-99
Stage 2 - Systolic equal to or more than 160, diastolic equal to ormore than 100Non-modifiable risk factors for hypertension includes family history,age in which primary hypertension typically appears between ages of 30-50 years, gender in which overall incidence is higher in men than inwomen until about the age 55 years and ethnicity where blacks are athigh risks.On the other hand, modifiable factors includes diabetes, stress,obesity, excessive sodium consumption and substance abuse such ascigarette smoking, heavy alcohol consumption and some illicit drugs arerisks for having hypertension.