Hypertension: update for paramedics

Hypertension is recognized by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as being one of the leading causes of premature death in the developed world (WHO, 2003). It increases the risk of stroke, heart failure and renal failure (Vasan et al, 2001), yet it is often a hidden disease that is not recognized by those who suffer from it. Hypertension is a significant problem in the UK, with a prevalence of 31.7% in men and 29.5% in women. The prevalence increases steeply with age in both sexes, so that by the age of 75, at least two thirds of men and women have high blood pressure according to current definitions (Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2008).

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