Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Doctors Often Overlook High Blood Pressure

news you may not knowYeah, Low Is Good...

High blood pressure, known as the silent killer, is also apparently the Rodney Dangerfield of medicine. Like the forlorn comedian, high blood pressure "don't get no respect." It's not surprising, in our day of anything goes lifestyles, that patients often ignore the dangers of hypertension. But, a new study from the Stanford University School of Medicine shows doctors are every bit as guilty of disrespecting this dreaded disease as anyone.

"Doctors should be screening more routinely during all office visits," said co-author Randall Stafford, MD, PhD.

A look at the numbers confirms the dilemma. Only 56% of patients are screened for hypertension during office visits. Much of this has to do with specialists who often don't feel the need to screen for medical conditions outside of their area of expertise. Says lead author Jun Ma, MD, PhD, "The thinking goes, 'I'm a dermatologist so I don't need to screen for high blood pressure.'"

The results are disturbing. More than 65 million Americans suffer from hypertension, a leading cause of cardiovascular disease, stroke and kidney disease. Yet, only 39% of these patients have blood pressures within an acceptable range.

The researchers emphasize the need for more aggressive screening by physicians and - get ready - strongly recommend significant lifestyle changes. The changes they recommend include losing weight, reducing salt intake, eating more vegetables and exercising more often. Yikes! It sounds just like all the advice other people give about living a healthy life. Hmm...

Don't despair - you can do this. Take a few simple steps - out the door, down the street and into the vegetable aisle. If it's a first-time experience, don't worry. Just grab anything green and give it a try.

To read more about the study, see this from ScienceDaily. To learn more about preventing high blood pressure, see this from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.


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