More Americans getting high blood pressure: study

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The number of Americans with high blood pressure is on the rise thanks in large part to growing rates of obesity, researchers said on Tuesday.

But increasing numbers of those with high blood pressure, also called hypertension, are getting the condition treated, researchers from the U.S. government’s National Institutes of Health wrote in the journal Hypertension.

High blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure. It is sometimes called the “silent killer” because it has no symptoms, and many people have it for years without knowing it.

Data spanning six years through 2004 showed that 29 percent of U.S. adults had high blood pressure, compared to 24 percent in the six-year period ending in 1994, the researchers said.

Another 30 percent of Americans in the most recent period had a condition called prehypertension with slightly elevated blood pressure levels that often worsens into full-fledged high blood pressure, the researchers said.

That means that only 41 percent of Americans had normal blood pressure levels, the researchers said.

“The percentage of the population with high blood pressure is going the wrong way — it’s increasing,” Dr. Jeffrey Cutler of the NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute said in a telephone interview.

Some of the leading factors behind high blood pressure include being obese or overweight, not getting regular physical activity, smoking and too much salt in the diet.  Continued…

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