The AP (10/28, Stobbe) has reported that in a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more Americans are aware that they have high blood pressure and more of them are taking medication to control it. High blood pressure also known as hypertension is called the “silent killer” because it doesn’t have symptoms and thus many people are not aware that they have this condition.
In the report from the CDC it was noted that 30% of American adults suffer from hypertension equaling approximately 66 to 74 million adults. The CDC study looked at surveys done from 1999 through 2008. One of the findings was that the percentage of adults who were aware of their condition increased from 69.6% in 1999 – 2000 to 80.6% in 2007-2008. The percentage of individuals who are being treated with medication increased from 60.2% to 73.7%. In addition, a larger percentage of adults were able to control their blood pressure over this time period. This report suggests that efforts to inform the public about the dangers of high blood pressure are succeeding but there is room for improvement. Dr. Steven Reisman, a Manhattan Cardiologist, and Director of the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center states that hypertension is a treatable risk factor involved in heart attack, heart failure, stroke, and premature death in the United States. Early detection, Dr. Reisman, noted requires just a simple blood pressure check which can be done in a brief period of time and a standard office visit.
Dr. Steven Reisman, A New York Cardiologist, discusses the hidden benefits of exercise as an invited speaker at the FBI in New York.
Dr. Steven Reisman was an invited speaker at the F.B.I in Manhattan on June 30, 2010 to discuss heart attack prevention. As part of this lecture he discussed the advantages of exercise in the relationship to general health and in particular, in the prevention of cardiac disease. One of the references Dr. Reisman used was an article in the Wall Street Journal from January 5, 2010 entitled “The Hidden Benefits of Exercise”.
The article described how moderate exercise can be extremely successful in the prevention of disease in general. This includes bolstering the body’s immune system, improving the body’s response to influenza vaccine, and making the individual less prone to viral infections. Dr. Reisman discussed the advantage of regular exercise including something as simple as a thirty to forty-five minute brisk walk daily five times a week which has been shown to have a positive effect. The article described how individuals who undergo this type of program can reduce the number of sick days up to 50% compared to sedentary subjects. Inactivity can pose a significant risk to one’s health contributing to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, depression, arthritis, and osteoporosis. In relation to heart disease, studies have shown that exercise can lower blood pressure, reduce bad cholesterol, and decrease the incidence of diabetes.
There are guidelines developed by the Department of Health and Human Services and available at www.health.gov/paguidelines. A survey conducted by the American College of Sports Medicine and American Medical Association found that only four out of ten doctors talk to their patients about the importance of exercise. Dr. Reisman, a Manhattan Cardiologist stated that at the New York Cardiac Diagnostic Center diet and exercise in the prevention of heart disease are important features of all patient interaction. Muscle strengthening activities two or more days a week are also suggested along with aerobic exercise.
Early detection of high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes can be easily determined on a simple office visit with a basic blood test along with a basic history and physical examination.
The New York Times (7/19, Altman) reports that former Vice President Dick Cheney underwent a procedure to implant a mechanical pump that is now being given to a small number of people with congestive heart failure. It is generally used in individuals who have severe heart failure and are at the risk of dying within several months without the device.
These pumps are partial artificial hearts also known as “ventricular assist devices”. They are implanted as a last resort either for use as a temporary device until heart transplantation or may at times be used as a permanent device. Former Vice President Cheney has congestive heart failure most likely resulting from five prior heart attacks. In addition, Mr. Cheney has had angioplasty to open up blocked coronary arteries and also stents to increase perfusion. He also had a prior pacemaker and defibrillator.
Approximately 5.8 million people in the United States have congestive heart failure. About 670,000 people are diagnosed with heart failure each year. The most common causes of heart failure include coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Early diagnosis and treatment can improve quality of life and life expectancy for those who have heart failure. The symptoms of heart failure may include shortness of breath during activity, difficulty in breathing when lying down, swelling of the legs and ankles, and general fatigue and weakness.
Healthday (7/7, Reinberg) recently reported that patients with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, may be able to have better control of their blood pressure at home than through conventional means. High blood pressure is called a “silent killer” because many people don’t realize they have it. Hypertension often has no warning signs or symptoms.
In the above noted article a study was sited that compared patients monitoring blood pressure at home along with adjusting their medications according to their blood pressure than those receiving “standard care” through health professionals. This study seems to suggest that patients may be more effective at controlling their blood pressure at home through monitoring as opposed to conventional methods such as only in a physician’s office. The group working on their blood pressure monitoring at home and adjusting their medications saw a greater reduction in blood pressure. One possibility may be that patients are more motivated in controlling their blood pressure when they have more interaction and input in the management of it.
Hypertension is a major risk factor for heart attack, congestive heart failure, stroke, and kidney failure. The only way to detect whether or not you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked by a doctor or health professional. This is quick and painless.
Bloomberg news (7/12/2010) reported that hospitals in the United States are delivering more urgent and faster emergency medical care to heart attack patients which results in increased survival. Bloomberg reported that in 2009 88% of patients with heart attacks received procedures within the recommended 90 minutes of arriving at the hospital compared to only 64.5% in 2007. The original study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
According to the American College of Cardiology about 770,000 Americans this year will have their first heart attack. A heart attack is an acute disruption of blood flow to the heart causing the death of the heart tissue. About 38% of those heart attacks will result in death.
These findings showing improved urgent care to these heart attack patients gives hope for increasing survival of heart attack patients brought to the hospital early on. Patients at risk for heart attack include those with cardiac risk factors such as hypertension or high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, a history of smoking, hyperlipidemia or elevated lipids, a family history of heart disease and obesity. These individuals need early testing to evaluate their risk for heart attack.