Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blood Pressure on the Rise in America 

More People Being Treated For Hypertension Than Ever Before, Study Finds

“The major factor in the dramatic increase in the number of Americans with high blood pressure appears to be the obesity epidemic rife in the United States, they noted. ‘Additional efforts are needed to prevent hypertension from developing in the first place, with primary emphasis on prevention of obesity,’ said lead researcher Paul Sorlie, chief of the Epidemiology Branch in the institute's Division of Prevention and Population Sciences. ‘For those who have hypertension, additional efforts are needed to diagnose, treat and effectively control hypertension to reduce the adverse outcomes associated with hypertension.’ The report was published in the November issue of Hypertension. From 1994 to 2004, the percentage of Americans with high blood pressure increased from 50.3 percent to 55.5 percent. In addition, the number of people with prehypertension -- those likely to develop high blood pressure-- increased from 32.3 percent to 36.1 percent. Sorlie thinks it is essential that people are aware of their blood pressure, and that those with high blood pressure work to get it under control. ‘Know your blood pressure levels, seek appropriate treatment, and follow the guidance of your physician,’ Sorlie said. ‘But to prevent high blood pressure in the first place, develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle, and control your weight through exercise and health eating behaviors.’ Dr. Theodore A. Kotchen, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and author of accompanying journal editorial, said there is good news and bad news in the study. ‘The good news about hypertension control in the U.S. is more people who have hypertension are aware of it, and more people who are aware of it are being treated, and more people being treated are being controlled,’ Kotchen said. But despite the positive data, concerns about high blood pressure and obesity remain, Kotchen noted. ‘Heart disease and stroke remain leading causes of death, and hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease and stroke,’ he said. ‘The percentage of hypertension is increasing, and perhaps that's due to obesity. We need to pay more attention to the problem of obesity and overweight," Kotchen said. "Hypertension remains uncontrolled in an unacceptably large number of individuals. We've made some progress, but more work needs to be done.’”

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