Uncontrolled hypertension still common among Americans

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Nearly 67 million Americans are living with hypertension, according to the latest estimates from the CDC, and nearly half of those people do not have their condition under control. Those are the dismal findings published in a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report that was based on 2003-2010 data obtained from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

As CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden points out, uncontrolled high blood pressure is public health enemy number two in terms of the number of potentially preventable deaths associated with the condition each year. Yet about 14 million Americans are not even aware that they are hypertensive, while another 5.7 million are aware but are not being treated.

And while a lack of health insurance or access to care is a major contributing factor to why many are not treating their high blood pressure, the problem persists even among those who are receiving treatment. As a study published in August pointed out, less than 20 percent of patients already taking anti-hypertensive drugs were given a different prescription when they continued to present with at least mild hypertension (140/90 mm Hg) during an in-office reading.

So what further steps can be taken to help reduce the number of patients living with hypertension? Well, at the risk of stating the obvious, we ll reiterate that physicians should be measuring and recording blood pressure readings at every visit.

And as ACSH's Dr. Ruth Kava points out, Those with hypertension should themselves be vigilant about keeping an eye on their blood pressure, For instance, they could be measuring it at home or the nearest pharmacy, and thus be aware of how well-controlled their blood pressure is.

In his report, Dr. Frieden expands on possibilities for improving recognition and diagnosis of hypertension suggestions that you can read here.