Heart Education Awareness Resource and Training through E-learning (HEARTe)

Case 3: Ronnie

Meet Ronnie

Ronnie is 62 years old and works as a nightshift security guard three nights a week. He was diagnosed with stage 2 hypertension five years ago. At that time he was found to have left ventricular hypertrophy. A blood pressure review is carried out by his practice nurse every year.

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Ronnie’s Risk Factors for Hypertension

Select each risk factor button below to reveal its contents.

Diet: High sodium diet. Ronnie frequently eats ready prepared take away meals.  These often contain high levels of sodium (salt). Sodium causes arteries to constrict and also causes the body to retain fluid.  Both of these are contributory factors to hypertension.

Smoking. Ronnie smokes around 20 cigarettes per day.  Smoking increases arterial stiffness and accelerates the atherothrombotic process, leading to hypertension.  The risk is increased in individuals who smoke more than 15 cigarettes per day.

Alcohol. Ronnie often has 3 or 4 cans of beer while he is watching television in the evening.  Having as few as 2 drinks per day can cause hypertension by activating the adrenergic nervous system, causing blood vessels to constrict and blood flow and heart rate to increase.

BMI. Ronnie is overweight.  Increased weight requires an increased amount of blood flow to supply the body with oxygen and essential nutrients.  As the volume of blood circulating increases, the pressure inside arteries also increases, resulting in hypertension.

Fitness: Low physical activity. Since he moved to a high rise flat and no longer has a garden, Ronnie does very little physical exercise.  Exercise reduces blood pressure through the release of natural hormones and cytokines that relax blood vessels. Physical inactivity also means Ronnie is liable to remain overweight.

Age. Ronnie is 62 years of age.  As people age, blood vessels lose their flexibility – often termed ‘hardening of the arteries’.  This lack of flexibility leads to increased pressure throughout the circulatory system and can result in hypertension.

Page last reviewed: 17 Sep 2020