A new study found that awareness, control and treatment of high blood pressure has dropped among United States adults.
Nearly half of adults live with high blood pressure, also called hypertension. It’s defined as a blood pressure reading of 130/80 mm Hg or higher, or by taking medication for the condition. High blood pressure increases your risk of having a heart attack or stroke.
Many people don’t know they have the condition. Symptoms usually appear only after damage to your heart and blood vessels has already happened. By identifying high blood pressure early, you can work with your doctor to control it.
Researchers examined how many people with high blood pressure knew they had it and how many were receiving treatment. They looked at data from a large national health survey on high blood pressure.
More than 50,000 adults were surveyed from 1999 to 2018. Researchers found that high blood pressure affected 30 percent of adults in 1999 and 32 percent in 2017.
Twenty years ago, about 70 percent of adults with high blood pressure were aware they had the condition. This increased to almost 85 percent in 2013. But by 2017, awareness dropped to 77 percent.
Treatment declined, too. Almost 54 percent of those with hypertension had their blood pressure under control in 2013. By 2017, that had dropped to 44 percent.
“The reversal in hypertension awareness is a real setback in the fight to reduce heart disease and stroke,” said study author Dr. Paul Muntner from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Dr. David C. Goff Jr., a heart disease expert with the National Institutes of Health agrees.
“Only about half the people in the country who have high blood pressure are controlled to recommended levels,” he said. “We could prevent a lot more heart attacks and strokes if more people had their blood pressure well controlled.”
This is especially true with African Americans. According to the American Heart Association, more than half of Black adults in this country live with hypertension, and it occurs at a younger age for us.