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Nearly Half of US Adults Have High Blood Pressure

June 27, 2022
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Nearly Half of US Adults Have High Blood Pressure - Lark Health

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In this article: 

  • Under current hypertension guidelines, 46% of adults have high blood pressure. Older adults are at higher risk for high blood pressure.
  • It's important to screen for hypertension because high blood pressure doesn't usually have symptoms. Most healthy adults aged 18 to 39 should get blood pressure checked every 3 to 5 years. Adults over age 39, and adults with risk factors for high blood pressure, should have blood pressure checked every year.
  • Healthy lifestyle choices, such as losing weight, eating healthy foods, and being physically active, can help manage blood pressure. You may also need antihypertensive medications if lifestyle changes aren't enough to lower blood pressure into normal ranges.
  • Lark can help you monitor blood pressure, make healthy choices, and take medications as prescribed. These choices can help manage blood pressure.

If you are managing hypertension or you're thinking about how to prevent high blood pressure, you're not alone!

What Is Hypertension? 

The Hypertension Prevention and Management Guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology (ACC) define hypertension as having a systolic blood pressure of at least 130 mm Hg and a diastolic blood pressure of at least 80 mm Hg. That is, hypertension is a blood pressure ‚â• 130/80 mm Hg. 

Hypertension is high blood pressure. It's a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It can also cause kidney disease and vision problems. 

Half of US Adults Have High Blood Pressure

According to the Hypertension Guidelines, 46% of US adults have hypertension or are on antihypertensive medications. The percentage is higher for certain groups.

  • 59% of adults who identify as Non-Hispanic Black have high blood pressure.
  • 70% of adults aged 55 to 64 have high blood pressure.
  • 77% of adults aged 65 to 74 have high blood pressure.
  • 79% of adults aged 75 and older have high blood pressure.

As you can see, a lot of Americans have hypertension. But not everyone with hypertension has it under control.

  • Only about half of Americans with hypertension have it under control.
  • 3 in 4 Americans with hypertension are under treatment for it.
  • About 2 in 3 Americans who are being treated for hypertension have it under control. 

How do you know if you have high blood pressure?

Screening for High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is known as the "silent killer" because it can lead to consequences, such as heart disease and stroke, before you know that you have it. Hypertension doesn't usually have symptoms. The CDC says that you can only find out if you have high blood pressure if you test it. 

The US Preventive Services Task Force (PSTF) says a healthcare provider should check your blood pressure every 3 to 5 years if the following are true:

  • Your previous measurement was in the normal range.
  • You are 18 to 39 years old.
  • You do not have other risk factors for high blood pressure.

You should have your blood pressure checked every year if you have high blood pressure, if you are over 39 years old, or if you have risk factors for hypertension. These can include the following.

  • Being overweight or obese. 
  • Being African-American.
  • Using tobacco products.
  • Not achieving physical activity recommendations.
  • Eating a high-sodium diet and/or lots of processed foods.

It's easy to get blood pressure checked. It takes only a few minutes, and it doesn't hurt. You can ask a nurse or other provider in a healthcare facility to measure your blood pressure. Some pharmacies, drugstores, and grocery stores have blood pressure stations. Home blood pressure monitors can be a good idea if you have high blood pressure and your healthcare provider has asked you to check it often.

Preventing and Managing High Blood Pressure

The great news is that you can take steps to support healthy blood pressure whether your blood pressure is normal or high. 

Lifestyle changes come first for preventing high blood pressure or managing elevated blood pressure. They can also help lower blood pressure if you have hypertension stage 1 or stage 2.

The Hypertension Prevention and Management Guidelines from the AHA and ACC list lifestyle changes you can make to lower high blood pressure. These are some examples. 

  • Losing extra weight. How is this for motivation: every 2 pounds that you lose can decrease blood pressure by 1 mm Hg!
  • Eating a nutritious diet that's high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products. If that's too vague for you, just follow Lark's guidelines. This type of eating pattern can lower blood pressure by 11 mm Hg.
  • Limiting sodium by 1,000 mg per day. Bread, pizza, sandwiches, processed meats, cheese, canned soups, and snack foods are some of the top sources of sodium in the American diet. Choosing low-sodium foods can lower blood pressure by 6 mm Hg.
  • Getting more dietary potassium. Fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, and fish are good sources. Getting more potassium can lower blood pressure by 5 mm Hg.
  • Being physically active. Doing aerobic activity for at least 150 minutes per week is the recommendation for adults, and it can lower blood pressure by 8 mm Hg. Resistance training exercises can lower blood pressure by another 4 mm Hg.

Avoiding tobacco and keeping alcohol to moderate amounts are also good choices.

If lifestyle changes on their own don't get blood pressure under control, your healthcare provider may prescribe antihypertensive medications. Be sure to take them as directed and ask your doctor about any concerns. Lark can help remind you to take medications if they're part of your blood pressure management program.

Lark can help you turn healthy choices into long-term habits to manage blood pressure. With Lark, you can work on making small changes that fit into your lifestyle. Lark offers tips, tracking, instant feedback, and friendly suggestions. Your personal Lark coach is available 24/7 through your smartphone so you can get expert tips, track meals, physical activity, and weight loss. 

The entire program may be available at no cost to you if your health insurer covers it. Click here to find out if you may be eligible for Lark! You could be minutes away from taking the first steps to hitting your weight loss goals and improving health.

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