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Incidence of High Blood Pressure Up

August 24, 2004|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — The number of Americans who have high blood pressure has risen by nearly a third over the last decade, researchers reported Monday.

The usual suspects are to blame: aging, obesity, lack of exercise and too much junk food, the U.S. government research team found.

At least 65 million Americans have hypertension, defined as blood pressure of 140/90 or more, a medical diagnosis of high blood pressure or the use of drugs to lower blood pressure. This equals nearly one-third of U.S. adults, the researchers said.

They found that the number of adults with high blood pressure had increased 30% from 1988 to 2000.

Writing in the American Heart Assn. journal Hypertension, the researchers said they had analyzed data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which included 4,531 adults.

"High blood pressure is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease, kidney failure, heart failure, stroke and other conditions," said Dr. Larry Fields of the Department of Health and Human Services, who led the study.

Blood pressure clearly rises with age and is equally prevalent in women and men. Blacks have a higher risk than others.

Researchers agree that regular exercise and a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in processed foods are the first steps to reducing high blood pressure.

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