Study: Half of People with High Blood Pressure Are Unaware


2013-09-04 09:19

How long has it been since you visited your doctor? Three months? Six months? A year or more? Although you might be feeling fine, high blood pressure often goes unnoticed by patients. In a new study, half of people with high blood pressure (hypertension) were unaware that they even had it, according to the research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Hypertension is linked to heart disease and stroke. But although a variety of medications are available to treat it, many people are not taking them.

"Blood pressure-lowering drugs are generally inexpensive and commonly available treatments," senior study author Dr. Salim Yusuf, a professor of medicine at McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, said in a university news release. "However, only a third of patients commenced on treatment are on enough treatment to control their blood pressure. This is worst in low-income countries, but significant in high- and middle-income countries, too."

The Research

To conduct the study, researchers evaluated the health histories of 154,000 adults aged between 35 and 70, none of whom had suffered strokes or heart disease. These adults had their medication use and blood pressure monitored. And the results shocked researchers.

"Our study indicates over half of people with hypertension are unaware of their condition and, amongst those identified, very few are taking enough treatment to control their blood pressure," study author Dr. Clara Chow, a member of PHRI and an associate professor of medicine of Sydney University and the George Institute for Global Health in Australia, said in the news release.

Only 46.5 percent of those with high blood pressure were aware of their condition. And of those individuals, only 32.5 percent actually controlled their readings.

Results

Based on the results of their study, the researchers are emphasizing that significant changes are needed to monitor and treat hypertension.

"The findings are disturbing and indicate a need for systematic efforts to better detect those with high blood pressure," Yusuf said. "Early use of combination therapies, that is, two or more types of blood pressure-lowering treatments taken together, may be required."

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