The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released new information regarding our nation’s health. According to new estimates, almost 54 percent of Americans diagnosed with hypertension don’t have the condition under control despite the majority receiving healthcare.
As a result, the CDC estimates that the prevalence of hypertension among adults at that time was more than 30 percent, or nearly 67 million Americans. Additionally, of the 53 percent who didn’t have their blood pressure in control, 39 percent were unaware they had hypertension, 16 percent knew but took no medicine to treat the condition, and 45 percent were taking medications that were not bettering the condition.
Why is this news concerning? CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden has deemed hypertension “public-health enemy number two,” only behind tobacco use.
To have hypertension means to have elevated or high blood pressure. A disease often known as the “silent killer” due to it being asymptomatic, hypertension typically leads to fatal stroke or heart attack. High blood pressure is defined as having a consistently elevated arterial blood pressure. Furthermore, obesity has been strongly associated with hypertension and heart disease.
Financially speaking, the CDC estimates that high blood pressure costs our nation close to $130 million a year in healthcare bills. And certainly more concerning, Frieden points out, is the fact that hypertension claims approximately 1,000 lives a day.
At the news of this concerning trend, the federal government has established an initiative called Million Hearts, which hopes to increase the number of Americans living with hypertension who have the condition under control by 10 million people within the next five years. Additionally, Frieden has announced a personal charge to doctors to help “put out the fire,” so to speak, before it gets out of control.
“[Hypertension] has to be a priority for every doctor’s visit.” he said. “We know that providers who focus on hypertension can get it under control and get it under control quickly.” Because the condition often goes untreated, Frieden is urging physicians to look at their patients blood-pressure readings to ensure that those with hypertension and those at risk of the disease do not slip through the cracks.
One hospital leading the fight against hypertension is Kaiser Permanente, which has helped close to 85 percent of its hypertensive patients get their blood pressure levels under control. As a result, they’ve seen a drastic decrease in instances of heart attack and stroke.
The CDC recommends several clinical strategies to help better monitor blood pressure and ultimately “win the war against hypertension.” A few of these strategies include flagging and monitoring patients with hypertension and measuring how many have their blood pressure under control; continually evaluating hypertension drugs to determine whether or not they’re effective; encouraging patients to monitor their own blood pressure; and promoting healthy lifestyles amount their patients including healthy, low-sodium diets, exercise and weigh floss methods for those that are overweight and obese.
In order to control and prevent your chances of having high blood pressure, seek to maintain a healthy weight, lower the amount of high-sodium, processed foods in your diet, decrease your alcohol intake to one drink per day for women and one to two drinks per day for men, and aiming to be active for at least 30 minutes most days of the week.