Hypertension is the most common primary diagnosis and most commoncause of death in the United States (Whelton, 2002; Brashers, 2006). It isestimated that 50 million Americans are affected by hypertension. Of these50 million, only 70% (35 million) are aware of their condition. In addition,only 50% (17.5 million) of those aware of their condition are receivingtreatment. Remarkably, only 25 % of all hypertensive patients have theirblood pressure under control (Brashers). More men have hypertension thanwomen in early life, but this disparity practically disappears by the 6
decade (Whelton). The life-long risk of developing hypertension innormotensives after the sixth decade of life is approximately 90%. Theincidence and prevalence of hypertension is about 50% higher in African-American adults compared with their counterparts who are white orMexican-American (Whelton).
Hypertension is a risk factor for coronary artery disease, congestiveheart failure, stroke and renal failure (Brashers, 2006). Risk factors in allpopulations include age, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, family history, smoking,alcohol, high sodium intake, low potassium or magnesium intake, and the useof NSAIDS (Brashers). Each 20mm Hg increase in systolic pressure or10mmHg increase in diastolic pressure above normal increases cardiovascularrisk twofold (Brashers).