Millions of Americans are living with hypertension. Collaboration of patients and providers to control the disease can help prevent life-threatening illnesses. Patient perceptions pertaining to an illness or disease can dictate one’s health behaviors, yet little attention has been directed toward the perceptions of Mexican American adults in relation to hypertension. Although hypertension is most prevalent among African Americans, Hispanics have higher rates of mortality due to poverty, cultural barriers, and customs affecting modifiable risk factors, prevention, and treatment. Without the proper treatment, many hypertensive patients may face devastating complications, including myocardial infarction, kidney failure, and blindness.
Hypertension affects approximately 73 million Americans. It is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure is elevated. Hypertension, also called high blood pressure is often seen concurrent with diabetes mellitus. Many refer to hypertension as the “silent killer” because often time’s individuals are Asymptomatic. Ideally, blood pressure is expected to be less than 120mmHg systolic and 80mmHg diastolic. Hypertension is defined as sustained blood pressure of the arteries greater than or equal to 140/90mmHg. . Twenty nine percent of Mexican American men and thirty one percent of Mexican American women are living with hypertension. Mexican American hypertension levels are compatible to non-Hispanic whites; however, they are less likely to have their blood pressure treated or controlled compared to whites and African Americans. Hypertension increases the work load of the heart leading to other chronic disease processes, most commonly myocardial infarction often referred to as a heart attack. Lack of treatment in the Mexican population render an increased mortality rate from hypertension as the underlying cause of death.
Mexican Americans perceptions of their illness do not always correspond with that of health care providers. The overall health of Mexicans has not greatly improved when compared with the general health of Americans. Their cultural values and beliefs may in fact increase barriers to awareness and control of hypertension and may also influence health actions taken. The most frequently mentioned cause of hypertension given was the daily stressors of life, with family and work stressors seen as the main cause of hypertension.
Mexican Americans tend to underutilize health resources that are available because of fear of discrimination and language and cultural factors. Low income, little schooling, and ethnic segregation play major roles in the health maintenance of Mexicans. High mortality rates suggest that Mexican Americans share higher rates of poverty-related health problems than Blacks.
The Mexican American community encourages members to utilize a natural support system such as, the extended family, folk healers, and religious institutions. Medical services are influenced by the...