High blood pressure (HBP) increases the risk for heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death in the United States. Nearly 30 percent of the U.S. adult population had HBP during 2001–2004, and HBP was not controlled in approximately 70 percent of those persons. To assess the prevalence of actions to control HBP, CDC analyzed data from 20 states. The results indicated that nearly all adults with HBP were taking at least some action, but some persons can take additional actions, including dietary changes, exercise, and taking prescribed medication. Created: 5/4/2007 by MMWR.
Date Released: 5/4/2007. Series Name: A Cup of Health with CDC.
A CUP OF HEALTH WITH CDC
Dealing with High Blood Pressure
Prevalence of and Actions to Control High Blood Pressure in 20 States, 2005
May 4, 2007
[Announcer] This podcast is presented by the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention. CDC – safer, healthier people.
[Matthew Reynolds] Welcome to A Cup of Health with CDC, a
weekly broadcast of the MMWR, the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. I’m
your host, Matthew Reynolds. Blood pressure is the force inside your blood vessels
when your heart beats. When your blood pressure stays high most of the time,
it’s called hypertension or high blood pressure. It can cause stroke or
heart problems. Hypertension can be a silent killer because a person can have
high blood pressure and not even have symptoms.
Today we are talking with Dr. Clark Denny about the dangers of high blood pressure.
Dr. Denny and his colleagues in CDC’s Division of Heart Disease and Stroke
Prevention recently published a study investigating how Americans in twenty
states are dealing with their high blood pressure.
Welcome to the show, Dr. Denny.
[Dr. Denny] Thank you Matthew. It’s a pleasure to be
[Matthew Reynolds] Dr. Denny, can you help our listeners understand
what high blood pressure is and why it’s so important to treat?
[Dr. Denny] I hope so, here, let me give it a try. Blood pressure
as you said is the pressure against the arteries. And high blood pressure is
important to treat because if blood pressure stays high it can lead to hardening
of the arteries, stroke, or heart disease. When we think of blood pressure we
usually think of two numbers, a top number and a bottom number. The top is the
systolic and that is the pressure when the heart contracts and normally that
should be less than 120. The bottom number is the diastolic that’s the
pressure between beats when the heart’s at rest. And normally, that should
be less than 80.
[Matthew Reynolds] Is high blood pressure common?
[Dr. Denny] Yes. About 30% of adults in the United States
have high blood pressure and that translates to 72 million adults. And a lot
of people don’t realize they have high blood pressure. So, we need to
get our blood pressure checked regularly. American Heart Association recommends
checking it every two years if you don’t have a history of high blood
pressure or a family history of high blood pressure. If you do, your doctor
would have to tell you how often to have it checked.
[Matthew Reynolds] Are there some people more likely to have
high blood pressure than others?
[Dr. Denny] It is more common among certain groups, for instance,
older people are more likely, African Americans more likely, people who are
overweight or are obese are more likely. And also someone can look perfectly
health and not be overweight and still have high blood pressure and not know
it. And so they need to have it regularly checked to make sure they don’t
have it. And that is why it’s called the “silent killer.”
[Matthew Reynolds] You’ve just published a report about
high blood pressure. Would you tell us about the study?
[Dr. Denny] This is a study where we used data from the Behavioral
Risk Factor Surveillance System, that’s a telephone survey. And we asked
people who had high blood pressure about what actions they were taking to control
that high blood pressure. So we asked them about their diet, their salt intake,
their alcohol intake, their exercise, and their medication. And we found that
almost everybody was doing something. For example almost 70% of people reported
exercising but that still means that about 30% are not exercising who perhaps
could be exercising. And maybe some of those 70% of people who are exercising
could exercise more.
[Matthew Reynolds] You’ve already mentioned that the
way to avoid heart problems and stroke is to control our high blood pressure.
What should we be doing to remain healthy? [Dr. Denny] In general, and especially
in terms of high blood pressure, we need to make exercise part of our regular
routine, watch our weight, eat a low fat diet with abundance of fruits and vegetables,
try to cut back on salt, if you do drink alcohol, drink it moderately, and if
you smoke, you should try to quit. Also, if you’re prescribed medication,
you should take that medication as prescribed. And if your having problems with
that you should consult with your physician about your problems with your medication.
[Matthew Reynolds] Do most people with high blood pressure
have it under control?
[Dr. Denny] Sadly, the answer is “no.” Most people
could have it under control if they took their medication as prescribed or worked
with their doctor to make sure that their medication is correct. And also to
take the actions, lifestyle changes, to control it. We found that even though
almost everybody is taking some action that more action needs to be taken and
that in reality only about 30% of people have it under control, though almost
[Matthew Reynolds] Dr. Denny, thank you for taking the time
to talk with us today.
[Dr. Denny] Well, you’re welcome. Thank you very much
for inviting me.
[Matthew Reynolds] That’s it for this week’s show.
Don’t forget to join us next week. Until then, be well.
This is Matthew Reynolds for A Cup of Health with CDC.
[Announcer] To access the most accurate and relevant health
information that affects you, your family and your community, please visit www.cdc.gov.