More people than ever are going to the hospital for high blood pressure. From 2002 to 2014, people who were hospitalized for a hypertensive crisis – when blood pressure increases so much, it can cause a heart attack or stroke – more than doubled.
This increase in hospitalizations is in contrast to research that has reported overall progress in blood pressure control and a decline in related cardiovascular events in the US.
Even though more people have been able to manage their blood pressure, this improvement has not translated into fewer hospitalizations for intensive crises. Researchers believe there could be various explanations for why this growing number of people are becoming hospitalized for high blood pressure. They believe it could be due to an increasing number of people who cannot afford medications to control their hypertension, or their blood pressure is rising after taking inadequate doses of these drugs.
Socioeconomic factors could also make it difficult for people to avoid lifestyle behaviors that can contribute to hypertension. These behaviors include consuming a high salt diet, inactivity, smoking, and more. They also may have limited access to healthcare, financial insecurity, or work and family demands.
To find this information, researchers investigated data from the National Inpatient Sample, which included a subset of all hospitalizations across the US, providing information from nationwide trends.
It was found that annual hospitalizations for hypertensive crisis more than doubled over a 13 year period. However, the risk of dying from a hypertensive crisis was slightly decreased overall during the studied time period. Women and men died at the same rate, even though women had fewer health issues compared to men who were hospitalized for a hypertensive crisis.
More research is needed to understand why the rise in hospitalizations is happening and how clinicians can help patients stay out of the hospital.
Maintaining Healthy Blood Pressure
With rising numbers of hospitalizations for hypertension, it is vital for those with high blood pressure to make lifestyle changes that can help to reduce the risk of a hypertensive crisis.
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