High blood pressure out of control for too many Americans

The majority of people with high blood pressure are being treated with medicine and have seen a doctor at least twice in the past year, yet their condition is still not under control, according to a new Vital Signs report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Millions more are either aware they have high blood pressure but aren't getting treated with medicine or don't even know they have it, the report says. Nearly 1 in 3 American adults (67 million) has high blood pressure, and more than half (36 million) don't have it under control, according to the report. "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 is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the first and fourth leading causes of death in the United States, leading to nearly 1,000 deaths a day. High blood pressure is defined as blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90 mm- Hg. High blood pressure's direct health care cost is almost $131 billion annually. Pharmacists, nurses, dietitians, and community health workers can support doctors in identifying and treating patients with high blood pressure. This team-based approach is a way to provide patient support and follow-up care, manage medicines, and help patients stick to a blood pressure control plan. In addition, patients should be counseled to make important lifestyle changes that affect blood pressure, including eating a healthy, low sodium diet, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking, health officials said. Key facts in theVital Signs report about those affected: *About 67 million adults have high blood pressure. *More than half (36 million) have uncontrolled high blood pressure. *Nearly 22 million know they have high blood pressure, but don't have it under control. *16 million take medicine, but still don't have their blood pressure under control. To learn more about blood pressure, visit cdc.gov/bloodpressure/. For more information on heart disease and stroke, visit cdc.gov/heartdisease/. High blood pressure increases your chance (or risk) for getting heart disease and/or kidney disease, and for having a stroke. It is especially dangerous because it often has no warning signs or symptoms. Regardless of race, age, or gender, anyone can develop high blood pressure. Once high blood pressure develops, it usually lasts a lifetime. You can prevent and control high blood pressure by taking action. You can take steps to prevent high blood pressure by adopting a healthy lifestyle. These steps include maintaining a healthy weight; being physically active; following a healthy eating plan, that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and lowfat dairy foods; choosing and preparing foods with less salt and sodium; and, if you drink alcoholic beverages, drinking in moderation. The causes of high blood pressure vary. Causes may include narrowing of the arteries, a greater than normal volume of blood, or the heart beating faster or more forcefully than it should. Any of these conditions will cause increased pressure against the artery walls. High blood pressure might also be caused by another medical problem. Most of the time, the cause is not known. Although high blood pressure usually cannot be cured, in most cases it can be prevented and controlled. Team Up program Customers at drugstores around the nation can get help to improve blood pressure control, through a collaboration among pharmacists, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and other partners. The program, "Team Up. Pressure Down.," includes educational videos, a blood pressure control journal, and wallet card to track medication use. The blood pressure initiative, part of the Million Hearts health education program and supported by the Affordable Care Act, was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with practicing pharmacists and national pharmacist groups. The initiative's tools will help pharmacists talk about current medications and ways in which patients can use the medications most effectively. The goal of Million Hearts is to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. "This valuable Million Hearts initiative will prevent heart attacks and strokes by bringing pharmacists into the care team to help patients control their blood pressure. Pharmacists are able to talk to patients and families about using medication to manage, high blood pressure, and they can also help patients address barriers to taking their medication," said Surgeon General, Regina M. Benjamin, MD. In May, the Community Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, nonfederal, uncompensated body of public health and prevention experts, whose members are appointed by the Director of CDC, recommended team-based care-uniting the efforts of physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and other health care professionals-to improve blood pressure control. Its recommendation followed a review of evidence from more than 70 scientific publications. "More than 36 million Americans, or more than half of those with hypertension, don't have their blood pressure under control and every single day, more than one thousand Americans have a heart attack or stroke," said Janet Wright, M.D., a board-certified cardiologist and executive director of Million Hearts. "Through the ``Team Up. Pressure Down.'' educational program for pharmacists, we are taking the first step in helping many more Americans achieve blood pressure control." "Our organization trains the next wave of young pharmacists who are committed to making a difference in patients' lives," said William Lang, M.P.H., vice president for policy and advocacy, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. "`Team Up. Pressure Down.' recognizes and supports the critical role of pharmacists in improving blood pressure control through team-based care."

********** Published: September 13, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 22

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