Nearly 36 million Americans with high blood pressure don’t have their condition under control either with or without medications, and that puts them at a three to four times greater likelihood of having a heart attack or stroke, according to a report released last Tuesday from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Uncontrolled high blood pressure — defined as having a systolic (top reading) of 140 or above or having a diastolic (bottom reading) of 90 or above — is “public health enemy number two” behind smoking, said CDC director Thomas Frieden during a press briefing; it contributes to 1,000 deaths in this country every day and causes $131 billion a year in health care costs.
The study, which reviewed data from more than 22,000 Americans who participated in government surveys from 2003 to 2010, found that more than 85 percent of those with poorly managed high blood pressure have health insurance and went for medical check-ups in the previous year.
“Some of these patients had mediations that weren’t working,” said Frieden, “while some had multiple high blood pressure readings but were never diagnosed with high blood pressure based on their medical records. Clearly we can do better.”
Doctors need to determine why hypertension medications — such as diuretics, beta blockers, and ACE inhibitors — aren’t working: Some patients may not be filling their prescriptions because they can’t afford them. Others need a different combination of drugs. DK