May is designated High Blood Pressure Month and this year marks the 30th anniversary of the National High Blood Pressure Education Program (NHBPEP), an initiative of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to get Americans to treat and control high blood pressure.
About 50 million Americans age six and older have high blood pressure, defined as systolic blood pressure (top number) of 140 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or higher, or diastolic pressure (bottom number) of 90 mm Hg or higher. Twenty years into the program, visits to physicians for high blood pressure had increased nearly 60 percent, whereas visits for all medical causes increased approximately 7 percent. The average systolic blood pressure has fallen more than 10 mm Hg. Deaths from stroke and coronary heart disease have fallen dramatically for men and women, as well as for white and black Americans in the last 30 years.
But, despite these successes, We need to renew our efforts together to make sure that more people have their blood pressure measured, and their hypertension recognized and treated, says Daniel W. Jones, M.D., co-author of the editorial and associate dean of the school of medicine and professor of medicine at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson, Miss. Jones stresses that treatment itself is not the whole answer. He says physicians should make sure the treatment is effective in reducing blood pressures to the goal the level identified as beneficial for preventing cardiovascular disease.
According to American Heart Association statistics, more than 31 percent of people with high blood pressure are unaware they have it. In addition, 26.2 percent of people with
Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association