STANFORD, Calif. - Despite the well-known dangers of high blood pressure, major shortfalls still exist in the screening, treatment and control of the disease even when patients are getting a doctor's care, according to a study from the Stanford University School of Medicine.
In a unique look at how blood pressure, or hypertension, is being addressed once a patient steps into a doctor's office, the study reported a lack of routine blood pressure screening and a low percentage of patients who are achieving recommended blood pressure goals after diagnosis.
"Doctors should be screening more routinely during all office visits," said co-author Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. "Dual medication treatment should be seen as standard therapy and intensive lifestyle changes should be encouraged."
Often referred to as "the silent killer," 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 can quietly damage your body for years before actual symptoms develop.
It's this lack of symptoms that is one of the major reasons for gaps in care, researchers said.
"This is a problem that spans much of preventive medicine," Stafford said. "The treatment itself doesn't make patients feel better. If somebody has asthma, they know that if they stop taking medication they're going to start wheezing. With blood pressure medicines, patients don't feel any different."
Because of this, many patients themselves don't follow the doctor's orders or return for follow-up care.
"We know many patients don't take the medications they were prescribed for the doses that were prescribed nor for the duration that was prescribed," said lead author Jun Ma, MD, PhD, a former research associate at Stanford Prevention
|Contact: Tracie White|
Stanford University Medical Center