America's Blood Pressure: Room for Improvement

Hypertension not well controlled in many US patients

(RxWiki News) Though high blood pressure is serious, it can often be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. But according to a new study, the problem is not well-controlled for many patients.

This new study looked at a large sample of adults with health insurance in the US.

The researchers estimated that nearly two thirds of adults with high blood pressure had their condition under control in 2012.

"Get your blood pressure checked regularly."

In people with high blood pressure, or hypertension, blood is moved too forcefully through the arteries, which can result in overstretching of the arteries' walls and putting patients at a greater risk for issues like heart attack or stroke.

According to the authors of this study, who were led by Milesh M. Patel, MS, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Committee for Quality Assurance, high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and contributed to more than 362,895 US deaths in 2010.

Patel and team wrote that an estimated 46,000 deaths a year could be avoided if 70 percent of patients with high blood pressure were properly treated and had their condition under control.

According to the American Heart Association, there are many ways to help control the condition, including monitoring blood pressure levels, eating better, exercising, avoiding tobacco smoke, using prescription medications and limiting alcohol.

To explore how well controlled the blood pressure of Americans was in 2012, these researchers looked at data from the 2010–2012 Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS). This sample included 113.4 million adults with health insurance who were between the ages of 18 and 85.

Patel and colleagues found that 11 percent of all participants had confirmed high blood pressure — approximately 12.4 million people.

Of those with high blood pressure, only 64 percent (around 7.9 million people) had documentation that the condition was controlled.

The researchers noted that in 2012, the US Department of Health and Human Services created the Million Hearts initiative — an initiative which set a goal of at least 70 percent control among adults diagnosed with high blood pressure by the year 2017.

Though 2012's estimation of 64 percent well-controlled high blood pressure was still below this goal, Patel and team noted that it was a slight improvement from results seen in 2010.

The researchers suggested standardized treatments for high blood pressure and improvements in identifying and monitoring the condition to help the US reach its goal for 2017.

"This is an important study that highlights the use of large databases to help us understand just how effective we are at recognizing high blood pressure, clinically termed hypertension, and then how effective we are at treating this condition," said Mohan Sathyamoorthy, MD, Chief of the Baylor All Saints Medical Center Cardiovascular Division.

"This study suggests that progress is being made, but much work has yet to be done, particularly in certain regions in the country," Dr. Sathyamoorthy told dailyRx News. "Hypertension is the major risk factor for stroke, and we can see through this study that if we are able to more effectively treat hypertension, we will reduce the number of strokes and ultimate deaths attributable to this condition."

It is important to note that this study only looked at adults with health insurance, and that it did not account for people who might have undiagnosed blood pressure.

This study was published in the February 14 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
February 13, 2014