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Half of the People with Hypertension Are Unaware of Their Health Condition

Update Date: Sep 05, 2013 10:01 AM EDT

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a chronic health condition that forces the heart to work harder in order to pump blood effectively throughout the body. Due to the association between hypertension and heart diseases, preventing it from occurring is vital. Unfortunately, not everyone knows about these preventable measures or care to take them. For these at-risk individuals, getting diagnosed with the condition and treating it is extremely important. However, a new study found that half of the people who have hypertension do not even know they have it.

In this Canadian study, researchers looked at over 140,000 adults between the ages of 35 and 70. The participants came from 628 different communities that encompassed both high and low-income counties. The adults were a part of a long-term study that was focused on the health of people from rural and urban areas. A high blood pressure measurement would be 140/90 mm. Healthy blood pressure should be around 120/80 mm.

The researchers discovered that 41 percent of the adults, equivalent to 58,000, had high blood pressure. Out of this percentage, only 46 percent of them knew that they had hypertension. From the 46 percent, around 90 percent of them were receiving treatment for their health condition. 30 percent of the adults getting treatment used two or more types of medications to lower their blood pressure. From the data, the researchers also found that the lack of awareness was worse in low-income counties.

"The findings are disturbing and indicate a need for systematic efforts to better detect those with high blood pressure," Dr. Salim Yusuf, the study's author said according to CBS News. Yusuf is a professor of medicine from the McMaster University's Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine in Hamilton Ontario, Canada. "Blood pressure lowering drugs are generally inexpensive and commonly available treatments. However only a third of patients commenced on treatment are one enough treatment to control their blood pressure."

Some of the risk factors for hypertension are old age, obesity, excessive alcohol use, too much salt intake and a lack of physical activity. The study was published in the JAMA.

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