Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publicaition of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reported this week that almost 70 million Americans have hypertension, or high blood pressure. About half of those people have uncontrolled blood pressure, either because they have not had a simple blood pressure check, or they have received health care and been identified with high blood pressure, but were not treated adequately to reduce blood pressure and keep it below 140/90.
High blood pressure is a deadly threat to Americans, causing long term damage to small vessels leading to strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, and loss of vision. High blood pressure may be caused by genetic predisposition, the average American diet (which is high in sodium), obesity, and lack of execise. Complications can be prevented and health can be greatly improved through basic lifestyle changes and medication. Reading labels to reduce calories to achieve ideal weight and reduce sodium intake to less than 2000mg per week, engaging in 30 to 60 minutes of walking or other exercise daily, and limiting alcohol intake are all lifesaving measures without adverse side effects.
If you have a family history of high blood pressure, or your blood pressure has been elevated at any time, you should monitor your blood pressure frequently. If lifestyle measures are not effective, regular follow up with your healthcare provider can provide effective treatment. Regular follow up is key to reduce the number---35 million people--who have uncontrolled high blood pressure, and reduce the estimated cost of $131 billion annually. Have you had your blood pressure checked recently?