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Report Calls High Blood Pressure a 'Neglected Disease'
Date:2/22/2010

It recommends a broad response, including consuming less salt and getting more exercise

MONDAY, Feb. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Americans eat way too much salt and cutting down on that consumption should be a cornerstone of new public health efforts to curb hypertension.

That's one of the key messages of an Institute of Medicine (IOM) report, commissioned by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and released Monday, that calls hypertension -- or high blood pressure -- a "neglected disease," one that has fallen off the public health radar and needs to be put back on.

"High blood pressure and its consequences are too important to remain a neglected disease," Dr. David Fleming, chairman of the committee that produced the report, said during a morning news conference. "It's time to give our complete attention to take full advantage of known and promising interventions, and take concerted actions necessary to achieve prevention and control of hypertension."

The public-health initiatives described by the report would refocus efforts from individual actions to so-called environmental considerations, such as stocking fresh produce in urban grocery stores, making streets safe to walk on, and enlisting the help of industry in manufacturing foods with lower salt content.

"Congress must give priority to adequate resources to implement a broad sweep of policy-based approaches at the state, local and federal levels," said Fleming, who is director of public health for Seattle/King County, Washington.

According to the report, 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. High blood pressure usually has no symptoms: You can have it for years without knowing it, even though it can damage the heart, blood vessels, kidneys and other parts of the body, according to the U.S. National Institute
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