Nearly Half of Americans Have Uncontrolled High BP

December 31st, 2015 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized

If you don't have high blood pressure, than it's likely someone you know does. The condition affects 70 million adults in the U.S. Two in three people over the age of 60 have high blood pressure, and one in three people between the ages of 40 and 59 have it, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, though, high blood pressure often goes unnoticed and unmanaged. Because it often has no warning signs and displays no symptoms, it's earned the nickname "the silent killer."

Left untreated, high blood pressure can cause serious heart issues and put people at risk for other diseases. Only 47 percent of people have their high blood pressure under control, according to the CDC. While this figure is an improvement over the 68 percent of people who did not have their blood pressure under control in 1999, it's still worrisome.

"I don't think we have enough positive information to be cheering," said Dr. Patrick O'Gara, executive medical director of the Carl J. and Ruth Shapiro Cardiovascular Center at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in an interview with WebMD. "Although the trend is positive, the magnitude of the problem is self-evident. We have a lot of work to do."

Health complications
High blood pressure is measured by the force that blood exerts on artery walls. If high force is consistently exerted, then it strains the heart and hardens arteries. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart disease and stroke, which the CDC noted are leading causes of death in the U.S. High blood pressure can also cause angina, or chest pain, heart failure and heart attacks. In addition, people with high blood pressure have a higher risk of getting chronic kidney disease, especially if they have diabetes.

Screening
Since high blood pressure doesn't show symptoms, the only way to know if you have the condition is by getting your blood pressure checked by a health professional. The test measures two pressure levels - systolic and diastolic. Systolic pressure equal to or higher than 140 and diastolic pressure equal to or higher than 90 signifies high blood pressure.

High blood pressure can be broken down into two types - primary and secondary hypertension. Primary hypertension has no known identifiable causes, while secondary hypertension can be caused by a variety of factors including thyroid problems, sleep apnea and chronic alcohol use. There are also many risk factors for high blood pressure, including aging, family history, being overweight or obese, lack or exercise, poor diet and smoking.

Obstacles to controlling BP
One reason people have trouble controlling their high blood pressure is because they have a difficult time starting and keeping up with blood pressure medications, according to WebMD. People are resistant to start taking new medications when they feel like they are fine, since high blood pressure doesn't have noticeable symptoms or warning signs.

"Patients don't like to take drugs," said Dr. Richard Stein, director of the Urban Community Cardiology Program at the New York University School of Medicine, in an interview with the source. "I don't like to take drugs. Drugs that don't have an obvious beneficial effect for me, it's easier for me to forget to take them."

To counteract this, Stein recommended that doctors alert patients to the experiences of family members who left their high blood pressure untreated and developed heart disease or other health issues or ultimately died from the condition. In addition, he also recommended that monitoring patients -  to make sure they take their medications -  extends beyond the responsibility of the doctor at check-ups. It should also be a responsibility of nurses, caregivers and pharmacists and neighborhood drug stores.

Along with a resistance to medication, another factor that makes it difficult for people to control their high blood pressure is their lifestyle. Entrenched dietary habits or sedentary lifestyles perpetuate high blood pressure but are difficult to change. Being overweight means that more blood is required to keep your body systems working, which puts greater pressure on the walls of your arteries. Sedentary people that rarely exercise have higher heart rates, which also puts more pressure on arteries. Elements of your diet can also contribute to high blood pressure, such as consuming too much salt and not enough Vitamin D or potassium. Stress can also make blood pressure higher.

These lifestyle factors, which are many times all inter-connected, make it difficult for people to control and manage their high blood pressure and puts them at an increased risk for serious heart and health issues. Get screened frequently to check your blood pressure levels. If you do have high blood pressure, work with a doctor to stay on top of your medication and adopt healthier lifestyle habits.

Source: Sunrise Senior Living

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