Americans with high blood pressure, cholesterol go untreated
Nearly a third of all adults have high blood pressure and another third have high cholesterol, but most aren't being treated, leaving them at risk for developing heart attacks, strokes and related vascular diseases, according to new data out from the CDC.
Half of American adults with high blood pressure and two thirds of those with high cholesterol aren't getting adequate treatment, the agency reports.
And it's not lack of health insurance keeping people from the doctor. Some 80 percent of people with uncontrolled hypertension or high cholesterol have some form of coverage, the CDC reports.
So what's the problem? Well, while patients may have insurance, they may not have regular access to medical care, or the counseling and support needed to care for these chronic conditions. Others don't go to the doctor for follow-up visits and about half just stop taking their medicine all together.
Heart attack, stroke and other vascular diseases kill more 800,000 Americans a year and cost the nation about $300 billion a year in medical costs. Thing is, medications can control high blood pressure and high cholesterol before they become serious, the CDC urges.
The full report analyzed government data from 11,100 patients from 2005 to 2008 and found 68 million people with high blood pressure and 71 million with high cholesterol.
What exactly does it mean to have high blood pressure or high cholesterol, you ask? For blood pressure, a reading of 120 over 80 is considered normal and 140 over 90 indicates it needs to be managed. For cholesterol, the LDL or "bad cholesterol" is the key figure. It should be less than 160 for people without heart disease or diabetes, no more than 130 for people with two or more other risk factors for heart disease and below 100 for people with heart disease or diabetes.