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High Blood Pressure Still Slipping Past Doctors
Date:5/12/2008

Study finds little more than half of patients were checked, only 39% met treatment goals

MONDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) -- The dangers of high blood pressure are well-known, but a new study finds a lack of routine blood pressure screening in doctor's offices and a low percentage of hypertension patients actually meeting their blood pressure goals after diagnosis.

The Stanford University School of Medicine study, published in the May issue of Hypertension, found that in the offices of private U.S. physicians:

  • Blood pressure was taken in only 56 percent of all patient visits, and in 93 percent of visits by patients diagnosed with hypertension.
  • Only 39 percent of patients being treated for hypertension were at the recommended blood pressure levels.
  • Only 20 percent of hypertensive patients who also have diabetes or kidney disease had their blood pressure controlled.

"Doctors should be screening more routinely during all office visits," study co-author Dr. Randall Stafford, an associate professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, said in a prepared statement. "Dual medication treatment should be seen as standard therapy, and intensive lifestyle changes should be encouraged."

The study analyzed data from a federal 2003-04 survey of services performed in offices of private U.S. physicians. It noted such details as whether the blood pressure cuff was brought out, whether appropriate medications were prescribed, and whether treatment achieved its goal.

High blood pressure affects more than 65 million people in the United States and is one of the most important and preventable risk factors for cardiovascular disease, strokes and kidney disease. High blood pressure, often called "the silent killer," can damage one's body for years before actual symptoms develop.

This lack of symptoms may be a major reason for poor quali
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