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Dr. Kim Mulvihill ReportingChances are you know someone with high blood pressure. A government report out today found nearly one in three Americans suffers from hypertension, and many don't know it.
Researchers with the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington came up with these figures by looking at census data and a national health survey. They found there are now more people than ever suffering from hypertension.
65 million Americans now have high blood pressure. That's a 30 percent increase in the last decade. Researchers blame overeating and lack of exercise for the most part. What's more -- the government study found almost a third of those affected don't know it.
Dr. Larry Fields, Dept. of Health & Human Services: “Most people don’t have symptoms. So by the time you have symptoms, you either have what we call Aschemic Heart Disease – your coronaries that are more blocked and you may be symptomatic from that – or you may have a heart attack outright.”
Doctors are not surprised by this explosion in hypertension. The population's getting older and blood pressure tends to rise with age.
So what's normal? A reading under 120 over 80 is ideal. More than 140 over 90 is high. And there's a new "pre-hypertensive" category for those in the middle.
Doctors urge those borderline patients to make lifestyle changes now before it's too late. That means more of the same old advice -- eat smarter and exercise. With lifestyle changes and sometimes with medication, people with high blood pressure can keep it in check and live normal lives.
Certain age groups or populations are affected more than others. It’s most prevalent among middle-aged Americans and African-Americans.