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Why is High Blood Pressure Such a Problem?

High blood pressure directly kills more than 41,000 Americans per year and contributes to  more than 200,000 additional deaths.  Because hypertension can cause major organ damage over time, patients who do not control their blood pressure face premature death. People with high blood pressure can have as high as ten times the risk of stroke and five times the risk of a heart attack!  Many consequences of high blood pressure are not reversible, so treating high blood pressure as soon as possible is extremely important.

The most important risk factors for high blood pressure can't be changed: risk increases with age, African American race, and family history.  But all the other risk factors are under your control: smoking, being overweight, having an inactive lifestyle, drinking more than one alcoholic beverage per day, and having a high salt diet.

According to cardiologist Dr. Dervilla McCann,

"The most important thing to remember about blood pressure is to ask questions and know what your own blood pressure is, because what we know now is the vast majority of people with hypertension are not adequately controlled or treated.  70% know they've got it.  Only 50% are treated and only about a quarter are controlled. . .So know what your blood pressure is."

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Created: 12/20/2000  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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