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Severe hypertension: 'Silent killer' still on the loose
Date:1/31/2008

Honolulu, HI High blood pressure may be one of the top killers in the country, but youd never know it by the way were behaving, say scientists attending the annual congress of the Society for Critical Care Medicine (SCCM).

Research shows that some 73 million people in the U.S. have high blood pressure, yet many of them dont even know it. And among those that do, a large number are not taking the medications they need to control it," says Dr. Christopher Granger, a cardiologist at Duke University Medical Center. Weve discovered that these patients are getting highly variable treatment. Moreover, we also found out that we arent doing a very good job following up with these folks once they leave the hospital, he adds.

Granger and colleagues at nearly two dozen institutions around the country created a special registry to find out what happens to patients with acute, severe hypertension those with blood pressure readings above 160/110 when they come to an emergency department or critical care setting for treatment.

They found that although 90 percent of them already had a diagnosis of high blood pressure, about a quarter of them were not taking the medicines they were supposed to. The researchers also found that extremely high blood pressure was related to high complication and death rates. Many of the patients already had major organ damage and over six percent of them died in the hospital. Upon discharge, most of the patients were given prescriptions for at least two medicines, but 41 percent had to be readmitted within three months. What may be most unsettling, however, is the fact that the investigators could not find any evidence in the discharge records of about 60 percent of the patients that there had been any attempt to schedule a follow-up appointment for them.

We are apparently turning large numbers of patients back out into the community without appropriate follow-up and care, says Granger. Severe hypertension
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Contact: Michelle Gailiun
michelle.gailiun@duke.edu
919-660-1306
Duke University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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