An encouraging drop in the number of deaths among Americans with high blood pressure has been documented by researchers, who warn however, that the number is still comparatively high.
Researcher Earl S. Ford, MD, MPH, medical officer with the U.S. Public Health Service at the CDC, in a news release reported that although several types of medications are available, there exists a considerable difference between those who suffer from high blood pressure and those without.
Two national health surveys yielded data for analysis in the study. The first had 11,000 people involved in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I) between 1971 and 1975. The second, NHANES III between 1988 and 1994, had information of 12,500 people. Examining the data, the researchers concluded that 30 per cent of adult Americans suffer from hypertension, the silent killer, which poses the increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney problems.
When the information was further scrutinized, Ford concluded that the overall death rate for NHANES I participants with high blood pressure was 42% higher compared to adults with normal blood pressure. The death rate fell from 18.8 deaths per 1,000 people with high blood pressure per year among NHANES I participants to 14.3 per 1,000 people with hypertension per year among NHANES III participants.
Interestingly, in both the surveys, the death rate among African-Americans with high blood pressure was higher than that among whites.
The decline in deaths among men with high blood pressure was more than four times larger than those seen in women with high blood pressure. "Compared with hypertensive men, women gained more weight, were more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes, and were less likely to quit smoking," reported Ford. He recommends more focus on reducing mortality among hypertensive women.
Dr. Donald LaVan, American Heart Association spokesman and clinical associate professor of medicine at University of Pennsylvania says, "The bottom line on this is, don't fool around with high blood pressure. You've got to get your weight under control. Restrict sodium intake. Exercise. And you've got to take your medicine. It actually pays off. There is no question about it."