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

s of Health.

"If you live long enough, you are almost guaranteed to get hypertension," said Dr. Corinne Husten, a committee member who, at the time the report was being prepared, was executive vice president for program and policy at the Partnership for Prevention. She is now senior medical advisor at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Tobacco Products.

The report outlines several priorities.

The first would be to cut Americans' salt intake -- 80 percent of Americans currently eat more than the recommended amount and that number is growing. But given that 70 percent of Americans' sodium comes from packaged foods and restaurants -- not from the family salt shaker -- the food industry needs to play a role here, Fleming said. "These efforts should be focused on making it easier for people to eat less salt," he said.

Experts also need to better understand why many health-care providers fail to adhere to current treatment guidelines, despite knowing what the stakes are. Some people don't even know they have high blood pressure, likely a failure of their doctor or other provider. "We are alarmed at the extent to which Americans have undiagnosed hypertension, equally the millions who have been diagnosed and are under the care of a provider but whose hypertension isn't controlled," Fleming said. Only one-third of people with the diagnosis have it under control.

The third area involves breaking down economic barriers that prevent patients from taking their medication. The committee recommended that the CDC work with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, pharmaceutical companies and businesses to help get medication to those who need it.

The committee also recommended that procedures be set up to measure performance in controlling hypertension and how much salt is actually being consumed. "There is really inadequate national data on trends," said Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of nutriti
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