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Nov 07, 2014

Little Progress in Prevention of High Blood Pressure

Despite advancements in the treatment of hypertension, one-third of Americans are still affected by the condition, finds study.

Despite advancements in the treatment of high blood pressure, one-third of Americans are still affected by hypertension, according to a study recently published in the journal Circulation.

High blood pressure causes more than 350,000 deaths each year in the United States. Not only does high blood pressure increase risk for life-threatening conditions like heart attack and stroke, it often has no symptoms, lending to its name as the “silent killer.” The good news is that high blood pressure can be prevented with healthy lifestyle choices like eating healthy and staying active. And for the 67 million Americans already living with this condition, high blood pressure can be controlled with lifestyle changes and medication, when necessary.

To see how well we’ve been doing with the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure, researchers recently analyzed national health surveys from 1999-2012. During this period, experts hoped that we would be well on our way to achieving targets set by “Healthy People 2020”—a list of objectives designed to improve the health of Americans. Among roughly 1,200 objectives included in “Healthy People 2020,” experts hope to reduce the number of Americans impacted by high blood pressure. They also hope to increase treatment and blood pressure control among those impacted by this condition.

After reviewing surveys from more than 12,200 adults, researchers found that we’ve exceeded goals around the treatment of hypertension in recent years. Between 1999 and 2012, the proportion of adults treated for hypertension increased from 60% to 75%. There was also a 20% increase in the proportion of adults who have their hypertension under control, although improvements appear to have reached a plateau. Despite these changes, the proportion of American adults impacted by hypertension (30%) remains unchanged.

Not surprisingly, researchers found that weight gain, a lack of health insurance and infrequent health care visits all contribute to high blood pressure. Based on study findings, authors encourage obesity prevention and treatment as a way to reduce the impact of hypertension in the United States. Investigators also highlight the importance of health insurance and regular office visits to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of high blood pressure.

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is hypertension?
  • Hypertension, often referred to as high blood pressure, occurs when the force of blood against the artery walls is too high. High blood pressure is often referred to as the “silent killer,” because it often causes no symptoms and if left uncontrolled, increases risk for heart attack and stroke.
  • 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.

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Featured Video

Hypertension is another way to say "high blood pressure." A patient has hypertension if their readings are above 140 over 90. With medication, the right diet, and a few lifestyle changes, however, hypertension can be managed.