You don't always know you have high blood pressure, but if the condition is untreated, it can be deadly – leading to heart attacks and strokes and kidney failure. That's why it's good news that a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) finds that many Americans are aware of the risks of high blood pressure or hypertension.
What's not good news is the CDC's finding that the prevalence of high blood pressure hasn't changed in a decade even though many people are controlling it with medication. The reports found that overall, 30 percent of Americans suffer from hypertension – and the specific prevalence remained consistent across races, ethnicities and genders.
It's not hard to guess why the numbers have stayed high. The population is aging and more of us are overweight or obese – both risk factors for high blood pressure. But some groups are more at risk than others; the report found that blacks are more likely to have high blood pressure than whites or Mexican-Americans.
Still, greater awareness of the condition means that more people are getting treated. In 1999-2000, about 70 percent of American adults with high blood pressure knew they had the condition; in 2008, more than 80 percent knew. That's reflected in the numbers taking medication. In 1999-2000, 60 percent of blood pressure patients took drugs to control it. In 2008, that number had climbed to nearly 74 percent. More than 48 percent of patients with high blood pressure had in under control in 2008, compared to 30 percent in 1999-2000.
To learn more about high blood pressure and what you can do about it, click here.