Under pressure: Many aren’t doing enough to control hypertension

(Montgomery Advertiser) — Hypertension — high blood pressure — was a primary or contributing cause of death for 326,000 Americans in 2006, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It puts us at risk for heart disease and stroke, the first and third leading causes of death in the U.S.

Despite the statistics, high blood pressure can be controlled, and it is not a death sentence. But as with other chronic conditions, awareness of it, and compliance with a doctor’s instructions and/or medication to treat it, is crucial to its control.

About one in three Americans — 31 percent — has high blood pressure. But one local cardiologist thinks there’s probably a percentage who aren’t even aware they have it.

Even more alarming, Dr. Paul Moore said, is that many who have been diagnosed with it aren’t controlling it.

“Part of it is noncompliance on the patient’s part,” said Moore, who is part of the Montgomery Cardiovascular Associates practice. “They can’t afford the medications, they don’t like taking medications, or they don’t like the way they make them feel.”

But another part of it is that physicians in general are perhaps not as attentive to high blood pressure as they should be, Moore said.

“There are so many other things you have to take care of in patients, and sometimes hypertension doesn’t rise to the surface.”

Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries as the heart pumps the blood. If this pressure rises and stays high over time, it can damage and scar the body’s arteries.

It’s expressed as two numbers. The first, or systolic, represents the pressure in your blood vessels when the heart beats. The second, or diastolic, represents the pressure in the vessels when the heart rests between beats.


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