Some 36 million Americans don't have their high blood pressure under control, although many take medication and see a doctor regularly. That's according to a new report out this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which urged both patients and doctors to be more vigilant about bringing down high blood pressure to reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and other serious health problems.
In total, nearly 67 million men and women have high blood pressure, according to the CDC report. About 31 million of those reduced their blood pressure to healthy levels with treatment, but more than half (36 million) have been unable. Of those with uncontrolled high blood pressure, more than 85 percent had a regular doctor and health insurance and 16 million were being treated with medication. More than 14 million were unaware they even had high blood pressure.
The CDC said people with high blood pressure can help bring it down to healthy levels by measuring their own blood pressure at home, eating a low-sodium diet and, if prescribed a medication, making sure to take it as directed and not to skip a dose.
Bottom line: Check your blood pressure. If it's consistently high try lifestyle changes such as lowering dietary sodium, losing weight, and exercising daily. Those measures can sometimes reduce or even eliminate the need for drugs. If you need medication, our medical experts and Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs recommends that the first choice should usually be a diuretic, particularly thiazide diuretics. with additional medications added if necessary. They're effective, safe, and available as low-cost generics, sometimes for as little as $10 for a three-month supply. Monitor your own blood pressure at home, with a goal to lower your levels to 140/90 or under. Don't settle for anything less if you want to avoid complications such as heart and kidney failure or stroke. Work with your doctor to achieve and maintain that result.
For more details on treating high blood pressure, read our latest report. To learn more about the medications used, see our free Best Buy Drugs reports on three types of high blood pressure treatments: ACE Inhibitors, Beta Blockers, and Calcium Channel Blockers.
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