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Aug 01, 2012

High Blood Pressure Trends in the U.S.

It is estimated that high blood pressure affects roughly 1 in 3 U.S. adults.

It is estimated that high blood pressure effects roughly 1 in 3 U.S. adults, yet only half are aware of their condition. Because high blood pressure is a well-known risk factor for heart disease, heart attack and stroke, promoting blood pressure awareness has been a big focus in recent years. If millions of Americans don’t even know that they have high blood pressure, it is not likely that they will take steps to reduce or control it. So, the hope is that by raising awareness for high blood pressure we can help people take control of their heart health and reduce their cardiovascular risk. But the question is – how have we done?

A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology looked at data collected on nearly 30,000 U.S. adults and learned that we might not be doing as well as we had hoped. Between 1999 and 2010, blood pressure rates have remained the same and continue to affect roughly 1/3 of U.S. adults. And while people have become more aware of blood pressure and have achieved better blood pressure control in this 11-year period, there have been no improvement in these areas since 2007.

So why are these trends important to understand? Even though we may have not made as much headway as we would have liked, studies like these help evaluate efforts to increase hypertension awareness and identify areas for improvement. We have helped increase awareness of high blood pressure, but still have a long way to go. Only ¾ of U.S. adults with high blood pressure are aware of it, and even fewer have their blood pressure under control. That’s why it’s important to continue efforts that not only help increase awareness of high blood pressure but also make blood pressure control easier to achieve.

Questions for You to Consider

  • How can I reduce my blood pressure?

  • Adults with high blood pressure can help reduce it by improving their diet, increasing physical activity and taking medication, when necessary. Reducing stress and quitting smoking (if a smoker) can also help improve blood pressure.
  • What are the symptoms of high blood pressure?

  • High blood pressure often has no symptoms, which is why it is called the “silent killer.” Because hypertension only causes some symptoms like dizziness or headaches when it reaches a severe stage, it is important to have your blood pressure checked regularly, especially if you have a family history of heart disease or high blood pressure.