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IOM report declares high blood pressure a neglected disease
Date:2/22/2010

WASHINGTON -- Public health officials and health care providers need to step up their efforts to reduce Americans' increasing rates of high blood pressure and better treat those with the condition, which triggers more than one-third of heart attacks and almost half of heart failures in the United States each year, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine.

Policies that create environments which support healthier eating, lowered sodium consumption, and increased physical activity offer greater promise of reducing the high hypertension rate than merely educating individuals about the dangers of high blood pressure, said the committee that wrote the report. Roughly three-quarters of Americans recognize the importance of having their blood pressure checked, but this awareness has not translated into sustained reductions in the condition. Nearly one-third of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, and it accounts for about one in six adult deaths annually, a 25 percent increase from 1995 to 2005.

Given that many individuals with high blood pressure have not been diagnosed and the majority of patients with hypertension do not have it under control, the report also calls on public health and medical officials to explore ways to improve health care providers' adherence to treatment guidelines. Multiple studies show that physicians are unlikely to start or intensify treatment for mild to moderate hypertension and that they are less aggressive about treating older patients, who are the most likely to have the condition and benefit from therapy. In addition, public health officials should work with health insurance plans to reduce or eliminate deductibles and co-payments for anti-hypertensive drugs to improve patients' compliance with treatment regimens.

"Although hypertension is relatively easy to prevent, simple to diagnose, and relatively inexpensive to treat, it remains the second leading cause of death among Americans, and as
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Contact: Christine Stencel
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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