Almost 67 million Americans have high blood pressure, and more than half of them do not have it under control. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death in the United States. Learn what you can do to get your blood pressure under control.
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, means having a systolic blood pressure number (top number) of 140 mmHg or higher and a diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) of 90 mmHg or greater. Although medication is often prescribed to help control high blood pressure, 1 in 4 Americans with uncontrolled high blood pressure do not take their medication regularly. This month's Vital Signs issues a challenge for health care providers and patients to achieve better control of this condition.
Key Findings from the Report
•High blood pressure contributes to nearly 1,000 deaths per day and accounts for nearly $131 billion in direct healthcare costs each year.
•Most people know they have high blood pressure, but it's not under control. As many as 16 million report being on medication and seeing a doctor at least twice a year.
•There are many opportunities to gain control of this serious public health problem, and using a team based approach can help.
A Team-Based Approach
These key findings suggest that controlling high blood pressure may benefit from a team-based approach between health care systems, health care providers (those who see and treat patients), and patients to work together to treat high blood pressure.
"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."
High Blood Pressure Control Improves When:
Health care systems use electronic health records, encourage the use of 90-day refills and consider having low, or no, co-pays.
Health care providers, i.e. doctors, nurses, pharmacists, etc. track their patients' blood pressure, prescribe once a day medications and give clear instructions on taking blood pressure medications.
Patients take the initiative to monitor their blood pressure levels between medical visits, take medications as prescribed by their doctor and notify their doctor of any side effects, and make lifestyle changes such as eating a low-sodium diet, exercising, and stopping smoking.