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Homeostatic Imbalances: Hypertension

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My name is Jennifer, and I am the education nurse here at ITT Internal Medicine. Your doctor asked me to explain to you your diagnosis of hypertension. I will go over what hypertension is, how your cardiovascular system works and maintains homeostasis, how the rest of your body could be affected by hypertension, and what you can do to lower your blood pressure. Hypertension is a chronic medical condition where the pressure of blood in the arteries is elevated. Blood pressure is a measure of the force that blood pumps against the walls of the arteries, and will have two readings: the systolic pressure or the measure of the blood within the artery when the heart muscle is contracting, and the diastolic pressure or the pressure of the blood when the heart muscle is relaxing. It is read as systolic pressure over diastolic pressure. Hypertension is present when consistent readings are above 140 systolic over 90 diastolic.

In hypertensive patients, usually both systolic and diastolic readings are both abnormally high. A normal blood pressure reading for an adult male would be under 120/80. Hypertension can be caused by many factors, and is considered a hereditary disease as well. This disease usually does not have one single identifiable cause because there are so many factors that can attribute to maintaining good cardio vascular health. Your cardiovascular system transports blood containing oxygen & nutrients throughout your body to your different organ systems, and carbon dioxide & waste to different organs for elimination from the body. Your heart acts as the pump to pump the blood through your arteries to your different organs, and back through your veins. When this is happening as it should and all your organs and systems are working independently to work together, your body achieves a balance known as homeostasis.

When this is not happening, it is called a homeostatic imbalance. Your body uses a negative feedback system to maintain the state of homeostasis. Your body has receptors called baroreceptors in the walls of certain blood vessels that detect high blood pressure, and send signals to your control center or brain that your blood pressure is high. Your brain should send output to your heart to slow its pumping and to your blood vessels to dilate to let blood flow through more freely and reduce the pressure. Hypertension is a disease that signals an interruption of this feedback system and therefore your body cannot achieve the homeostatic state of normal blood pressure. Hypertension puts added strain on your heart, and can cause many other complications within your body. This disease shortens life expectancy and puts added strain on your heart, which can lead to Coronary Artery Disease, Hypertensive Heart Disease, and Chronic Kidney Disease.

Hypertension can also cause negative affects to the brain and eyes. The constant abnormally high pressure of the blood pumping too hard against the arteries and the heart trying to keep up with the rate or the blood pressure can have lasting effects on all systems of the body since blood is how each system takes in and disposes of energy & waste. The good news about hypertension is that it can be controlled with medicine your doctor can prescribe, but also can be affected by natural healthy changes you can make in your life. A reduced dietary salt intake and an increased intake of fruit while following a low-fat diet are the first steps to lowering hypertension. If you are overweight, weight loss is an important factor in lowering hypertension, as is lowering your intake of alcohol and caffeine. Stress is another external factor that can lead to high blood pressure. Your body performs at its best when it is at a homeostatic balance, and since hypertension will not allow your body to achieve that, getting your blood pressure under control is a very important part of keeping your body healthy and in good condition.

Lip, G. H., & Nadar, S. (2009). Hypertension. Oxford: Oxford University Press Marsh, C., & Rizzo, C. (2013). Hypertension. Magill’S Medical Guide (Online Edition) Jenkins, G. W., & Tortora, G. J. (2013). Anatomy & Physiology From Science to Life (Edition 3 ed.). Danvers, MA: John Wiley & Sons Inc.

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