New Univera Report On High Blood Pressure

Most Western New York Adults Diagnosed with High Blood Pressure Follow Recommended Care, But Many Don’t 

While many Western New York adults diagnosed with high blood pressure take steps to control the condition, thousands are putting their health at risk by failing to do what they can to manage it, according to a new Univera Healthcare report.

“About two out of three of the 416,000 Western New York adults diagnosed with high blood pressure said they changed their diet or increased their physical activity to manage their condition,” said Richard Vienne, D.O., vice president and chief medical officer, Univera Healthcare. “But one in three Western New York adults with the condition is not taking these two crucial steps to improve blood pressure control.

“That’s concerning, because properly managing high blood pressure can add years to your life and help you avoid costly and crippling health problems, such as heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease,” he added.

One in three upstate New York adults, or 1.2 million people, was diagnosed with high blood pressure in 2009, according to the most recent data available.

Anyone can develop high blood pressure, but certain factors increase risk. The risk of high blood pressure increases with age and is higher in people who have a family history of the condition. Non-Hispanic blacks and women older than age 65 are also prone to high blood pressure.

Adopting a healthier lifestyle can help adults prevent and control high blood pressure. A healthy lifestyle includes maintaining a healthy weight; minimizing dietary salt, fat and sugar and getting enough potassium; regularly engaging in aerobic physical activity; moderating alcohol; avoiding tobacco; and following your physician’s advice about blood pressure control medication.

The Univera Healthcare report is based on an annual survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the report, many Western New York adults diagnosed with high blood pressure said they made recommended lifestyle changes to manage it:

· 66.2 percent to 76.0 percent said they changed their diet, reduced their salt intake or increased their physical activity.

· About one-third said they don’t drink alcohol, but 10.1 percent said they had at least one binge-drinking episode in the 30 days prior to the survey.

· About four out of five said they take blood pressure control medication as advised by their health care provider.

· 83.5 percent said they do not currently smoke, but 16.0 percent said they currently do.

Obesity is the most important predictor of high blood pressure. In Western New York, 37.6 percent of adults diagnosed with high blood pressure were obese, and 35.4 percent were overweight. Only about one in four adults diagnosed with high blood pressure was at a healthy weight.

Blood pressure measures how hard the blood pushes against the walls of your arteries. High blood pressure can damage your blood vessels, which can cause heart and kidney disease. You have high blood pressure, also called hypertension, if your systolic pressure (“top number”) is 140 mm Hg or higher or your diastolic pressure (“bottom number”) is 90 mm Hg or higher.

“The report also found that a health professional’s advice to adopt healthier behaviors can be a powerful motivator for patients,” Vienne said. “About 75 percent of upstate New York adults diagnosed with high blood pressure who reported adopting a healthier diet, for example, said they were advised by a health professional to do so.”

Univera Healthcare’s TakeCharge Community Health Report on high blood pressure is the second in a series describing what upstate New Yorkers report doing to manage their health conditions proactively. The first TakeCharge report focused on diabetes. To view the reports, go to UniveraHealthcare.com/factsheets.