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Blood Pressure Rates on Rise Again in U.S.

Posted: Wednesday, September 08, 2004

"It's not surprising because we've seen that Americans are getting fatter, and we know that blood pressure goes up when people gain weight," said Dr. David Goff, an epidemiology expert at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, who was not involved in the analysis, of Census Bureau and health statistics. About 65 million American adults have high blood pressure - 30 percent more than the 50 million who did in the previous decade, according to the report in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The report did not specifically examine reasons for the spike, but experts said the aging American population and the growing proportion of overweight and obese Americans were probably major contributors.

The risk of hypertension, or high blood pressure, increases with age, excess weight and lack of physical activity. High blood pressure is defined as 140 over 90 or higher. Blood pressure less than 120 over 80 is generally considered ideal. People in between these categories are called prehypertensive.

The study found that Americans, either have blood pressure in the high range, take blood-pressure-lowering medicines or have been told at least twice that they had high blood pressure.

The new figures are from census data and from a 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which included 4,531 adults. It estimates that 31.3 percent of Americans have high blood pressure, up from 28.9 percent in the previous national health report from 1988-94.

Four out of 10 black Americans have high blood pressure, compared with about three out of 10 Mexican-Americans and whites.

There are no symptoms of high blood pressure. "That's why they refer to it as the silent killer," said Dr. Larry E. Fields, lead author of the study and an adviser to the United States assistant secretary for health. So he said healthy adults should be checked at least every two years.

Only two out of three people who have high blood pressure know that they do, and only one in three has the condition under control.

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Source:  Diabetes In Control.com.

 
 
 
 
 
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