The persistent incidence of hypertension is "principally a failure of our health-care delivery system," said Dr. Dan Jones, president of the American Heart Association. "Certainly physicians have some fault, patients have some fault, and biology plays a role. But in our current health-care system, high blood pressure is treated as part of a visit with a primary-care physician that may take only five to 15 minutes. It may be one of five or six problems that the patient has and may be the least symptomatic of those problems, so it doesn't get the attention it should."
Even when the problem is detected and hypertension medication is prescribed, "patients need to take the medicine on a regular basis, and simply fail to do so," Jones said.
Measures other than drug treatment can keep blood pressure under control, Ezzati added. "Lowering salt intake, including regulation in packaged and prepared foods, and regular testing should both be effective, as would, of course, more exercise and lower weight," he said.
"We've got to make hypertension a high priority in the treatment of patients," Jones said.
The full story on high blood pressure and its control is told by the U.S. Library of Medicine.
SOURCES: Majid Ezzati, Ph.D., associate professor, international health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston; Dan Jones, president, American Heart Association, and dean, University of Mississippi School of Medicine, Jackson; Feb. 12, 2008, Circulation
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