Hypertension is a condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is elevated. It is most often referred to as high blood pressure. Right now, about one in every three American adults has hypertension. Only half of these people have their condition under control. Those who don’t can face serious complications or even death.
Statistics show that every day close to one thousand people in the United States die from a condition related to hypertension. However, this doesn’t have to be the case according to global health organizations. Experts say simply giving people access to proper diagnosis and care, as well as inexpensive medicines could save their lives.
New approach to hypertension treatment
Research shows that many people with uncontrolled hypertension are living in low or middle income countries where health education and access to medical care is limited – so the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has joined forces with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) to create the Global Standardized Hypertension Treatment (GSHT) project. Part of the project involves making treatment less expensive. One of the principles behind GSHT is to support and administer once-a-day medicines; combine medications into a single pill when possible and simplify medication refills to reduce costs.
The Pan American Health Organization Strategic Fund will be helping to ensure lower drug prices for all the member states involved in the GSHT project. It’s not all about money, though; every hypertension patient will receive individual attention and care including regular tracking of blood pressure and general health. Every member of the health care team will play a crucial role in the patient’s treatment as well.
The silent killer
Hypertension or high blood pressure is called “the silent killer” because it has no warning signs or symptoms; however, complications can arise from the condition. For example, high blood pressure can cause hardening and thickening of the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack or a stroke. Additionally, increased pressure can cause blood vessels to weaken and bulge, thus forming an aneurysm. When an aneurysm ruptures, it can be life-threatening. Neurological studies have shown that hypertension can reduce blood flow to the brain, which can have damaging effects, including confusion and memory loss.
Hypertension should be taken seriously. That’s why during annual physicals, doctors make a point to check your blood pressure.
With the Global Standardized Hypertension project in place, officials with the Centers for Disease Control believe that in just ten years, ten million heart attacks and strokes could be avoided. All it would take is treating half the people with uncontrolled hypertension.
The source of the problem
While the exact cause of hypertension is a constant subject of research, medical scientists do know that there are several factors associated with the condition. The following list covers many of those factors.
- Genetics (family history of hypertension)
- High levels of salt intake
- Insufficient calcium, magnesium, and potassium consumption
- Vitamin D deficiency
- High levels of alcohol consumption
- Chronic kidney disease.
High price of hypertension
The fall-out from not monitoring and treating hypertension can be devastating to patients and their families. As well as hurting families, it impacts all aspects of society, including the workforce and medical system. Hypertension (high blood pressure) costs the US health care system close to 50 million dollars a year. The CDC runs several heart and stroke prevention programs that help people learn how to keep their blood pressure under control. They also fund a national plan to reduce heart disease, but they see this new Global Standardized Hypertension project as a great step forward in lowering the number of unnecessary deaths linked to hypertension.