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Dec 05, 2013

National Efforts to Improve Blood Pressure Control

Experts release a science advisory, which includes a new approach for the treatment of hypertension.

There are plenty of therapies available to effectively treat hypertension, many of which have been around for decades. Still, less than half of the 78 million Americans with high blood pressure have their condition under control, the consequences of which can be life-threatening. That’s why the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently got together to issue a national advisory, which set new standards for the treatment of hypertension.

This advisory was created by experts in the field and was published in both the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association’s journal, Hypertension. The paper highlighted what authors refer to as an algorithm, which offers step-by-step guidelines for treating patients with high blood pressure.

This algorithm lists optimal medications for the treatment of hypertension as well as lifestyle modifications for blood pressure control, such as exercise, weight loss, and the DASH diet. Depending on a patient’s blood pressure levels, the guidelines recommend starting with a certain combination of the above therapies. They also outline next steps when a patient’s blood pressure is not under control with initial therapy.  After all, identifying patients with high blood pressure is often only half the battle, since not all therapies work as well for each patient.

With these new guidelines, experts hope to increase awareness of hypertension, identify patients with high blood pressure more readily and standardize treatments so that patients with hypertension have better control of their condition. But there’s no question that achieving these goals will take some work.

Currently, only 81.5% of U.S. adults with hypertension are aware of their condition, three-fourths of which are receiving treatment. Worse, only half of those treated have their blood pressure under control. Authors are hopeful that with their new guidelines and additional efforts to standardize treatment of hypertension, we can combat hypertension more effectively and improve the heart health of millions of Americans.
Read the full advisory in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is a healthy blood pressure?

  • For adults, a healthy blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg. Blood pressure is considered elevated between 120–139 mmHg systolic (top number) or between 80–89 mmHg diastolic. Chronic high blood pressure, known as hypertension, occurs when systolic blood pressure is more than 140 mmHg or the diastolic systolic blood pressure is more than 90 mmHg.
  • How can I reduce my risk for hypertension?

  • There are a variety of ways to reduce risk for hypertension, such as eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising regularly, quitting smoking (if you smoke), limiting sodium intake, reducing stress and maintaining a healthy weight. For those already diagnosed with hypertension, these lifestyle changes can also be effective in treating and controlling the condition, sometimes in conjunction with certain blood pressure medications.

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