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Spotlight on Blood Pressure

Have you heard of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)?  It is a government agency that (among other things) collects statistics about the health and wellbeing of Americans. Would it surprise you to know that, according to the AHRQ, more than 55 million Americans are being treated for high blood pressure? That breaks down to one out of every four adults!  

 
If you lined up 100 random people who are being treated for high blood pressure, at least 30 of them would be African American, 25 would be Caucasian, 15 would be Hispanic and the rest would be from other races.
 
Among those same 100 people, 57 would be senior citizens. That’s no surprise, right?  If you work with the elderly, you've probably noticed that a number of your clients have high blood pressure. But, it might shock you that 5 of those people would be young adults, age 18 to 40. The other 38 people would be middle-aged, ranging from age 40  to 64. 
 
What about gender? The AHRQ says that our 100 random people would be split fairly evenly—about 52 women and 48 men. It seems that women are a bit more likely than men to seek treatment for their blood pressure.
 
So, what does hypertension cost our health care system? The amount is a staggering $47 billion! The bulk of that money (more than $21 billion) goes to prescription drugs—with the rest going to doctor and ER visits, hospitalizations and home health care.  And all that money is being spent on a condition that, in many cases, is preventable by making healthy lifestyle choices.
 
As startling as the above facts may be, the real truth is even worse. Remember…that “one in four adults” statistic refers to the number of people who are being treated for their hypertension. In reality, experts guess that one out of every three Americans has high blood pressure—and that includes children! This means that millions of Americans live with untreated high blood pressure. And that boosts their risk of heart attack and stroke.
 
How is your blood pressure? Remember that a blood pressure is considered normal if it is below 120/80. Anything higher than that is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.  
 
Here are some sources for more information about hypertension:

The Mayo Clinic

The National Institutes of Health

In the Know's Hypertension Inservice

Remember...high blood pressure is called the silent killer because it causes few--if any--symptoms.  If it's been a while since you had yours checked, how about asking a co-worker to take your blood pressure?  And, if you are concerned about your blood pressure, please see a physician.


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