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Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a major public health issue affecting millions of individuals worldwide. It is a chronic condition characterized by elevated pressure of the blood against the arterial walls, which over time can cause significant damage to the cardiovascular system. Understanding the anatomy and physiology of hypertension, as well as its risk factors and treatments, is crucial in the management of this condition.

Anatomy and Physiology: The heart pumps blood into the arteries, which then transport the blood to the rest of the body. Blood pressure is the force of the blood against the arterial walls. Blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and is recorded as two numbers: systolic pressure (the higher number) measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats, and diastolic pressure (the lower number) measures the pressure in the arteries between beats. Normal blood pressure is considered to be less than 120/80 mm Hg.

Risk Factors: Hypertension can be caused by various factors, including genetics, age, lifestyle habits, and underlying health conditions. Some common risk factors include:

  • Obesity

  • Physical inactivity

  • Unhealthy diet (high in sodium and low in potassium)

  • Stress

  • Smoking

  • Excessive alcohol consumption

  • Family history of hypertension

  • Chronic kidney disease

Treatments: The primary goal of treating hypertension is to reduce the risk of developing heart disease and stroke. Treatment options for hypertension include lifestyle modifications and medication. Lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, are the first line of defense in treating hypertension. Additionally, medications such as ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and diuretics may be prescribed to control blood pressure.

What Patients Can Do to Improve or Control Hypertension: Patients can take several steps to improve or control their hypertension, including:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

  • Engaging in regular physical activity

  • Following a heart-healthy diet that is low in sodium and high in potassium

  • Limiting alcohol consumption

  • Managing stress

  • Quitting smoking

Medical coders may face several obstacles when coding hypertension, including:

  • Interpretation of documentation of the presence or absence of hypertension

  • Incomplete or missing patient medical history

  • Inadequate documentation of risk factors and treatments

  • Lack of standardization in the coding of hypertension

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