Know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers
Dr. Venita Bland | 7/15/2013, 1:17 p.m.
The American Heart Association often talks about risk factors. These are conditions of health that if not controlled will increase your risk of heart disease. They include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, being overweight and physical inactivity. There is much to be said about each of these risk factors. If the American Heart Association allowed me to add an additional risk factor it would be sleep deprivation. As of yet they have not asked for my opinion so we will work with the ones they have listed.
Many studies and articles have been written about each one of those risk factors individually and how they affect each other. A recent study looked specifically at hypertension and elevated cholesterol. “It’s been known for many years that people with high blood pressure have about double the risk of coronary heart disease, but treating hypertension with the usual ways we go about it reduces heart attack risk by about 25 percent,” states Dr. Brent Egan from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. He further states, “So that leaves a lot of residual risk. While it’s been known that treating multiple risk factors is more beneficial than treating any one risk factor alone, I think it might be underappreciated in terms of how important it is to treat and control both high blood pressure and cholesterol.”
Studies have shown that less than one in three people in the United States have their blood pressure and cholesterol level under control says the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). NHANES is a national survey that has looked at the health of the country. The survey of the country’s health was done from 1988 to 1994, 1999 to 2004 and from 2005 to 2010. By extracting data across all three surveys it was determined that 60.7 to 63.3 percent of the people with hypertension also had high cholesterol levels. They further found that during the course of the survey the control of high cholesterol increased from 9.2 percent in the 1988 to 1994 survey to 45.4 percent in the 2004 to 2010 survey. The 2005 to 2010 survey found that only 54 percent of people had good blood pressure control.
Dr. Egan points out the fact that we have made significant improvement in both the hypertension and cholesterol rates in this country but that still leaves about 70 percent of people who have hypertension and cholesterol together not being controlled. It was further noted that a significant number of these people who are not under control do not even realize they are at risk. This was particularly true for the men under age 55. This group tends to not visit their primary care providers. It has been shown that people who visit their primary care providers two or more times a year were two times more likely to have their hypertension and high cholesterol controlled. Those taking antihypertensive medications were three times more likely to have both risk factors under control. Those taking cholesterol lowering medications were ten times more likely to have both risk factors controlled.
Hopefully with the Affordable Care Act more people will be entering into the health care system and hopefully more people will be controlled.
Dr. Egan states, “Healthy blood vessels are essential for a good quality of life. Dementia, for example, is driven by these risk factors. And just in general, our health, endurance, and sharpness of mind are much better if we have healthy blood vessels. Hypertension and high cholesterol are things that damage these vessels and cause us to lose that quality of life earlier than is necessary.”
These words are particularly poignant for the Black community which has more dementia and hypertension. Know your blood pressure and cholesterol numbers. Take care of yourself. What you do now determines the quality of your life later on.
Veita Bland is a board certified Greensboro physician and hypertension specialist. To contact Dr. Bland with suggestions for future articles, email: email@example.com. or follow on Twitter @Drvbland