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08-02-2011 | Cardiometabolic | Article

High blood pressure and cholesterol levels in USA are ‘out of control’


CDC Vital Signs report [pdf]

MedWire News: High blood pressure and cholesterol are "out of control" in the USA, with many adults not receiving effective treatment for their condition, suggests findings in the latest Vital Signs report.

The study, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), found that half of US adults with high blood pressure (at least 140/90 mmHg), and two in three with high cholesterol (high low-density lipoprotein [LDL] cholesterol), are not being treated effectively.

Furthermore, 80% of adults in the study with uncontrolled blood pressure or high cholesterol had health insurance.

Heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases associated with high blood pressure and cholesterol kill more than 800,000 adults in the USA each year. Of these, 150,000 are under 65 years of age.

"Although there has been progress in recent years, it's far too little, and still most Americans with these conditions don't have them under control," commented Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC.

He added that "clinical services that detect and control high blood pressure or cholesterol are not being delivered to all those in need."

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey 2005-2008, the report shows that 68 million US adults have high blood pressure and 71 million have high LDL cholesterol. Of these, a respective 37 and 48 million people do not have their condition under control, and 20 and 37 million remain untreated.

"Not only do individuals need to be continually checked for these conditions, they also need good affordable treatment along with regular follow-up care," explained Frieden.

"Many people don't have regular access to medical care, prescription medications, or lifestyle counseling," he added. "Improvements in the way health care is delivered are needed."

According to the report, everyday decisions, such as not smoking, eating healthily, exercising, and taking prescription medicines can keep a heart healthy, and will improve blood pressure and cholesterol levels among US adults.

The authors also stress the need for new health plans, including testing for high blood pressure and cholesterol, and counseling on the use of aspirin, quitting smoking, and diet and weight-loss management.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Nikki Withers