High blood pressure needs more attention

CDC: One in three U.S. adults has hypertension, with more than half uncontrolled

There are 67 million Americans—nearly one out of every three U.S. adults—with high blood pressure, according to a CDC Vital Signs report released today. More than half of these people, some 36 million in this country, don’t have their condition under control, however.

“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 Frieden, MD, MPH. “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 5 years.”

Most patients with high blood pressure are being treated with medicine and have seen a doctor at least twice in the past year, but many still suffer from uncontrolled high blood pressure, according to the CDC report. There are also about 14 million Americans with high blood pressure who don’t know it yet, as well as about 6 million who know they have high blood pressure but haven’t been treated.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, which are the first and fourth leading causes of death, respectively, in the United States. As a result, high blood leads to nearly 1,000 deaths every day. The direct health care cost of high blood pressure is almost $131 billion, CDC noted.

CDC called on pharmacists, nurses, dietitians, and community health workers to support doctors in identifying and treating patients with high blood pressure. A team-based approach provides patient support and follow-up care, manages medicines, and helps patients stick to a blood pressure control plan. The agency also urged health professionals to counsel patients to make important lifestyle changes that affect blood pressure, including eating a healthy, low sodium diet; exercising; maintaining a healthy weigh; and not smoking.

Controlling high blood pressure is also a key component of the Million Hearts initiative to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.