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High Blood Pressure on the Rise

Posted - Jul. 30, 2003 at 8:46 a.m.



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Nearly one-third of American adults have high blood pressure. That's 58 million people.

That increases their risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.

Now a new study says the numbers of people with hypertension is on the rise, and some people are more at risk than others.

Doris Griffin, 71, takes medications every day to control her high blood pressure. Before getting treatment, she had terrible headaches.

Doris Griffin/ Blood Pressure Under Control: "I WAS ALWAYS SWIMMY-HEADED, LIKE THE ROOM WAS SPINNING. IT MAKES YOU SICK AND SLEEPY. I STAYED SLEEPY."

There often are no symptoms at all, but people like Doris-- elderly African American women-- are at greatest risk.

That's according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Ihab Hajjar, M.D./ University of South Carolina: "HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE TRENDS ARE ACTUALLY INCREASING, SPECIFICALLY IN THE ELDERLY POPULATION, IN NON-HISPANIC BLACKS, AS WELL AS IN WOMEN."

Researchers analyzed data from the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination survey.

They found almost 30-percent of those examined had high blood pressure-- a four-percent increase from ten years ago. Of those, 30 percent did not even know they had it.

And even among those who did know, only 30 percent had it under control. The researchers say this shows there's clearly room for improvement. The most important step is the first one-- going to the doctor and getting your blood pressure checked.

"MAKE SURE THAT YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE GETS CHECKED REGULARLY. IF THE BLOOD PRESSURE IS HIGH THEN IT'S IMPORTANT TO SEEK HELP. THERE ARE EXCELLENT TREATMENTS THAT ARE SAFE AND ARE AVAILABLE THAT CAN DEFINITELY LOWER YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE AND DECREASE YOUR RISK FOR HAVING HEART DISEASE AND OTHER COMPLICATIONS OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE."

Doris couldn't agree more.

"NOW THAT IT'S UNDER CONTROL I FEEL GREAT."

The study found age, race and body weight were all indepedent risk factors for high blood pressure.

Treatment usually means diet and exercise, weight loss. And when that's not enough, medications can help lower the blood pressure to lower the risk of dangerous complications.

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