A recent survey published in BMC Family Practice shows that US internists and family practice physicians mistakenly believe they are adequately treating high blood pressure. All of the surveyed physicians felt like they treated hypertension adequately and many cited the biggest challenge in blood pressure control as patient noncompliance.
According to the American Heart Association, one in three US adults has high blood pressure, and 55% of those with high blood pressure do not have it controlled. The estimated direct and indirect cost of high blood pressure in the US for 2010 is $76.6 billion. WHO reports that the prevalence of hypertension is growing worldwide in developed and developing countries. High blood pressure is considered to be a "silent killer" because it is a risk factor for many life threatening diseases, and treating hypertension has been associated with a 40% reduction in risk of stroke and 15% reduction in risk of heart attack. These statistics clearly show why all patients and physicians should ensure that high blood pressure is treated and controlled sufficiently through diet and/or medication.
Because uncontrolled hypertension can lead to more severe and fatal illnesses, physicians must be able to properly identify and treat hypertension. High blood pressure is defined as having a systolic blood pressure over 140 and/or a diastolic blood pressure over 90. High blood pressure can be identified by in-office, home, and/or ambulatory BP measurements. The US JNC7 guidelines discuss the identification and treatment of high blood pressure at length, but since family practice physicians deal with so many illnesses and injuries they need a shorter summary of hypertension guidelines. The high percentage (55%) of hypertensive Americans who are not in control of their blood pressure demonstrates an alarming need for more programs to educate family practice physicians on effective means of identification and treatment of hypertension. Further to this point, of the 167 countries surveyed by WHO, 45% of healthcare professionals were not trained to manage hypertension.
How important is blood pressure and the identification of hypertension in your practice or your customer's practice? We challenge you to open up discussions with your staff or customers this week. We would love to know how it goes!