Hypertension, or abnormally high blood pressure, affects approximately one in three adults in the United States and more than 1 billion adults worldwide . The relationship between blood pressure and risk of cardiovascular disease is well established: the higher the blood pressure, the greater the chance of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, or kidney disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) label high blood pressure as the “silent killer” due to the lack of warning signs or symptoms associated with the disease . Many people do not realize they have hypertension until it is too late. As such, it is important for adults ages 18 or older to have their blood pressure checked every year.
Using data from PHMC’s Community Health Data Base 2010 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey, CHDB staff examined adults ages 18 or older living in the region who have not been screened for high blood pressure in the past year as well as adults who have been told they have high blood pressure.
Blood Pressure Screening among Adults
In Southeastern Pennsylvania (SEPA), nearly one in ten adults (9.4%) has not had a blood pressure screening in the past year, representing nearly 283,000 adults in the region. Furthermore, almost one in three adults (31.4%) has high blood pressure, representing about 945,000 adults in the region.
Characteristics of Adults with High Blood Pressure
The following points address demographic differences between adult residents in the region that have been told by a healthcare provider that they have high blood pressure.
As heart disease and stroke are the leading causes of death globally, claiming over 17 million lives per year , World Heart Day is celebrated each year to support heart healthy lifestyles and to share heart health messages. However, prevention does not stop with regular blood pressure screenings, and many steps can be taken to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease or stroke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with the National Institutes of Health, make the following lifestyle recommendations [1, 3]:
· Eat a healthy diet – eat foods that are low in sodium, saturated fat, and/or cholesterol;
· Be physically active – engage in at least 30 minutes of activity most days per week;
· Don’t smoke – smoking injures blood vessels and speeds up hardening of the arteries; and
· Limit alcohol use – no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 drinks per day for men.
For more information on what you can do to prevent or control high blood pressure, please visit the National Institute of Health’s website.
For more information about the findings presented in this article, please contact Nayan Ramirez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Poverty level is calculated based on family size and income. For example, a family of four with an annual income of less than $33,075 in 2009 was considered living below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Vital signs: prevalence, treatment, and control of hypertension—United States, 1999-2002 and 2005-2008. MMWR. 2011;60(4):103-8.
 World Heart Federation. About World Heart Day, 2012. Available at: http://www.world-heart-federation.org/what-we-do/awareness/world-heart-day/about-world-heart-day/
 National Institute of Health (NIH).The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure, 2003. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/hypertension/express.pdf
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