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The Voice of the Black Community

Life and Religion

Blood pressure out of control
More than 35 million have uncontrolled high blood pressure, and 40 percent have no idea
 
Published Wednesday, January 23, 2013 12:15 pm
by Michaela L. Duckett

More than 35 million Americans have uncontrolled high blood pressure – and about 40 percent have no idea, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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, experts say.

 “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.”

 Nearly one in three American adults (67 million) have high blood pressure.

 The majority are being treating 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 recent Vital Signs report from the CDC. Millions more are either aware they have high blood pressure but aren’t getting treated or don’t know they have it, the report says.

 While some people with high blood pressure experience headaches, dizzy spells or excessive nosebleeds, most have no signs or symptoms, even if blood pressure readings reach dangerously high levels. That’s why it’s often referred to as “the silent killer.”

Treatment of high blood pressure is very effective and relatively low-cost. Yet, most people with the disease remain at elevated risk for heart attacks, strokes, and other problems.

People who lack health insurance have the lowest rates of control, but 80 percent of adults with uncontrolled blood pressure have insurance and access to low-cost treatment options, suggesting that health care coverage may be necessary but, for most people, is not enough to control these leading killers.

“Although we’re making some progress, the United States is failing to prevent the leading cause of death—cardiovascular disease—despite the existence of low cost, highly effective treatments,” Frieden said. “We need to do a better job improving care and supporting patients to prevent avoidable illness, disability, and death.”

The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to get tested. If you haven’t recently, ask your doctor during your next visit or stop by a local pharmacy, which usually provide free blood pressure screenings.

 There are a number of lifestyle changes that can be made to protect your heart, including eating a healthy, low-sodium diet, not smoking, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight.

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