Hypertension Essay

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According to Statistics SA hypertension is one of the leading non communicable diseases in South Africa1. It is a major risk factor for the development of various cardiovascular diseases and thus has been shown to contribute to heart failure and stroke. There is a high prevalence of undiagnosed and untreated hypertension in South Africa1. In order to improve therapeutic interventions it is essential to understand all the mechanisms that are associated with this disorder. Therefore recent studies have shown that 24hr blood pressure profiles could assist with improving our understanding of hypertension2. Blood pressure profiles indicate that blood pressure varies diurnally throughout 24 hours, being higher during the day and lower during the night3. Normal blood pressure variation is considered to be 10-20-% less at night compared to daytime4. Therefore people with a nocturnal blood pressure decrease of 10-20% are classified as dippers, and those who have a nocturnal BP decrease less than 10% are classified as non-dippers4. It makes sense for blood pressure to be higher during the day as individuals are more active therefore have increased sympathetic nervous system (SNS) activity. During the night however, the body is in a state of rest therefore there is less SNS activity as the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) takes over5. Non-dipping is 25-35% more prevalent in hypertensive patients compared to normotensive patients6. As a result hypertensive patients are more prone to cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, unstable angina and transient cerebral ischemia6. Greater incidences of these cardiovascular events have been reported especially in female hypertensive patients6. The cause of... ... middle of paper ... ...s evidence that confirms that natriuresis decreases sodium retention thus increasing the synthesis of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator and therefore increased concentration would further promote arteriolar vasodilation13. Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH diet) have recommended increasing dietary potassium intake through consumption of fruits and vegetables which are high in potssium14. There several other proposed beneficial effects of K+ such as decreased sensitivity to norepinephrine and angiotensin II, and baroreceptor sensitivity15. The positive effects of dietary potassium on lowering blood pressure are well documented but whether these benefits extend to nocturnal blood pressure dipping has not been established yet. Therefore the aim of this study is to investigate the beneficial effects of potassium on nocturnal blood pressure dipping.

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