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Blood pressure out of control for many Americans

Serious health risk needs more attention at every healthcare visit

September 5, 2012
KEYWORDS blood / disease / health / heart / pressure
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heart healthThe majority of people with high blood pressure are being treated with medicine and have seen a doctor at least twice in the past year, yet their condition is still not under control, according to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Millions more are either aware they have high blood pressure but aren’t getting treated with medicine or don’t even know they have it, the report says.

Nearly 1 in 3 American adults (67 million) has high blood pressure, and more than half (36 million) don’t have it under control, according to the report.

“We have to roll up our sleeves and make blood pressure control a priority every day, with every patient, at every doctor’s visit,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “With increased focus and collaboration among patients, health care providers and health care systems, we can help 10 million Americans’ blood pressure come into control in the next five years.”

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the first and fourth leading causes of death in the United States, leading to nearly 1,000 deaths a day.

High blood pressure is defined as blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90 mm- Hg. High blood pressure’s direct health care cost is almost $131 billion annually.

Pharmacists, nurses, dietitians, and community health workers can support doctors in identifying and treating patients with high blood pressure. This team-based approach is a way to provide patient support and follow-up care, manage medicines, and help patients stick to a blood pressure control plan. In addition, patients should be counseled to make important lifestyle changes that affect blood pressure, including eating a healthy, low sodium diet, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking.

Key facts in the Vital Signs report about those affected:

  • About 67 million adults have high blood pressure.
  • More than half (36 million) have uncontrolled high blood pressure.
  • Nearly 22 million know they have high blood pressure, but don’t have it under control.
  • 16 million take medicine, but still don’t have their blood pressure under control.

To learn more about blood pressure, visit www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/.  For more information on heart disease and stroke, visit http://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/.

Controlling high blood pressure is also a key component of the Million Heartsinitiative to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.

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