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Southeast US Continue to Deal with High Rates of Hypertension

Update Date: Dec 28, 2013 10:40 AM EST

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a chronic health condition that can lead to several other health complications if left unchecked. High blood pressure has been tied to increasing the risks of heart attack and stroke. Within the United States, roughly one-third of the adult population has hypertension. In a new report, researchers found that hypertension rates are particularly high in the southeast, a problem that might be irreversible.

"The rates have not changed," commented one of the study's authors, Dr. Uchechukwu K.A. Sampson, who is an assistant professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN. "The number of people who do not know that they have high blood pressure is the same."

For this study, Sampson and his team used statistics from a large database that provide information on 69,000 men and women living in southern states. The data encompassed the time span from 2002 to 2009. The researchers focused on people who had similar income and education levels.

The researchers found that roughly 57 percent of the people had hypertension. The hypertension rate for black adults was almost doubled that of white adults. This trend was particularly noticeable in female participants. The team calculated that 64 percent of black women and 52 percent of white women had hypertension. For men, however, around 51 percent of black and white men had high blood pressure.

The researchers found that 94 percent of the participants who knew they had hypertension were taking at least one prescribed medication. Around 30 percent of the patients who knew about their health condition were taking a diuretic medication, which is considered one of the better medication options.

The researchers reported that the main contributor to hypertension appeared to be obesity, especially for white participants. Many of the other factors included high cholesterol, family history of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and a history of depression. The researchers found that over the years, these rates have not changed dramatically. They believe that until more programs are created to increase awareness about hypertension and its causes, the situation in the southeast could become irreversible.

"We need to create more awareness that women also have this problem," Sampson said according to Reuters India. "Everyone should be treated equally aggressively, with the same level of interest. Patients, be more proactive in monitoring your blood pressure. Physicians should be much more proactive as well."

The study was published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

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