High blood pressure out of control for many Arkansans

    7:41 AM, Sep 7, 2012   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) --  A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that almost 67 million American adults have high blood pressure, and half of them do not have it under control. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is one of the most important causes of stroke, accounting for 1,700 deaths in Arkansas in 2009, a rate of nearly five deaths every day. Many more stroke victims each day don't die, but are left with various degrees of disability.

    According to Joe Bates, MD, Chief Science Officer and Deputy State Public Health Officer for the Arkansas Department of Health, almost half of all Arkansans have high blood pressure, including many that don't even know they have it.

    "It is the most important health problem in our state," Bates said. "Even though high blood pressure is relatively easy to control and easy to treat successfully with low-cost medication, less than half of those people who are in treatment have their blood pressure under control."

    "The answers are clear-a low-sodium diet, maintaining a healthy weight, regular exercise and no tobacco use," Bates said. "Year after year, Arkansas winds up at or near the top when it comes to death rates from stroke," Bates said. "This situation is preventable."

    Health experts say that taking medication as prescribed, frequent blood pressure checks and regular check-ups with a physician are a necessary part of good treatment for high blood pressure.

    Key findings from this month's Vital Signs, a publication issued by the CDC, include the following: 
    • Nearly 67 million adults in America have high blood pressure.
    • 36 million have uncontrolled high blood pressure.
    • About 22 million know they have it, but don't have their blood pressure under control.
    • 16 million take medicine, yet still don't have their blood pressure under control.

    According to the report, team-based care is one successful approach to control high blood pressure. Pharmacists, nurses, dieticians or community health workers can assist doctors in sharing the responsibility for identifying and treating patients with high blood pressure.

    The Chronic Disease Coordinating Council's Arkansas Wellness Coalition is encouraging health providers to talk to their patients about healthy eating and sodium consumption. The Coalition is sending current dietary guidelines and "Choose My Plate" posters to more than 2200 primary care physicians in the state.

    The dietary guidelines recommend that healthy adults consume 2,300 mg of sodium (1 tsp. of salt or less per day) and persons who are 40 years of age or older, black, or who currently have high blood pressure should consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium (2/3 tsp. of salt or less per day). Data show the average daily sodium intake among Arkansas adults is 3,233 mg (about 1 ½ tsp. daily).

    High blood pressure is the pressure of the blood against the walls of the arteries that is greater than or equal to a 140/90 mm-Hg reading. People with high blood pressure are four times more likely to die from a stroke and three times more likely to die from heart disease.

    To learn more about high blood pressure, visit http://www.cdc.gov/bloodpressure/. To access the Vital Signs report, go to http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/. Controlling high blood pressure is also a key component of Million Hearts™, a national initiative to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. To learn more, go to http://www.millionhearts.hhs.gov/.

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