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Millions of Americans Have Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure: CDC
Date:9/4/2012

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 4 (HealthDay News) -- One-third of Americans have high blood pressure and only half of them have it under control, dramatically increasing their risk for possibly fatal heart attacks and strokes, a new government report shows.

That translates into 67 million Americans with high blood pressure and only 36 million people keeping it at healthy levels through medication or other means, the new data suggests.

"[About half] of Americans with high blood pressure don't have it under control and because of that, it's public enemy number two," Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a Tuesday news conference.

Public health enemy number one is tobacco, he added.

The information comes from the Sept. 4 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a CDC publication. The report also states that direct health care costs from high blood pressure total almost $131 billion annually, and the condition contributes to about 1,000 deaths per day.

Although 22 million Americans know they have high blood pressure, they aren't managing it. For 16 million Americans, medication isn't doing the trick, either because they're not getting the right drug combination, they're having trouble paying for a prescription or because another problem is standing in their way, Frieden said.

This is the case despite the fact that most people with high blood pressure have also seen a doctor twice in the past year.

High blood pressure is defined as having systolic blood pressure (top number) greater than or equal to 140 mmHg and diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) greater than or equal to 90 mmHg.

Medication for high blood pressure does work for nearly all patients when taken as prescribed, Frieden added.

Surprisingly, 14 million Americans who have high blood pressure are unaware of it even thou
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