Awakening to the Silent Killer
I have hypertension. I'm taking meds, exercising a little more, avoiding fatty foods when I can, and doing some of the other things that are supposed to be good for my almost-40-year-old ticker - like drinking more red wine, for example.
I'm also an editor for ADVANCE for Nurses, including this Web site. And so I've edited numerous articles and otherwise read and understand a lot about the association between high blood pressure and heart attack and stroke.
I even know that I may be a "responder," meaning alcohol might actually raise the triglycerides in my blood from those yummy fatty foods that I can't seem to cut from my diet. To find out, I'll have to quit drinking that red wine for 3 weeks and then have the triglycerides level in my blood tested. It's one of my New Year's Resolutions; I just have to decide which year.
Still, I was surprised when a survey released Jan. 31 indicated most American adults are unaware of the connection between high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke - even though heart disease is the nation's No.1 killer of both men and women.
That's right - more than 50 percent of those who responded to a survey commissioned by the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors (NACDD) said they did not associate high blood pressure with coronary events and stroke.
The "Americans and Blood Pressure Survey: A Survey of Americans and Their Knowledge Regarding High Blood Pressure" was conducted on behalf of NACDD by TSC, a division of Yankelovich, Inc.
The survey was conducted by telephone within the U.S. between Jan. 3-6, among 1,018 adults ages 18 and over. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity and region were weighted to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total U.S. adult population. The margin of error for this study was +/-3.1 percent.
This being February and therefore American Heart Month, the survey's results take on a particular significance.
For example, while 72 percent of American adults understand multiple factors contribute to high blood pressure, such as obesity and salt intake, only 42 percent of the survey's respondents associated high blood pressure with heart attack and stroke.
What's more, 76 percent aren't even worried about developing high blood pressure, including 80 percent of Americans over 55!
But according to the American Heart Association, approximately 33 percent of Americans have the condition, noted John Robitscher, NACDD executive director, in a press release announcing the release of the survey.
"In essence, about 20 million American adults are not worried about getting high blood pressure, but are likely to develop it," he said
Funding for prevention efforts a one part of the problem, added David P. Hoffman, director, Bureau of Chronic Disease Services, New York State Department of Health.
"Only 34 states and the District of Columbia receive federal funds for heart disease and stroke prevention," he said. "The rest must rely on state funding and other resources."
Another problem, of course, is high blood pressure typically has no real symptoms, which lends to it the nickname "The Silent Killer."
Some of the other interesting findings from the NCDD survey include:
All of which begs the question: What are you doing to educate your patients about the association between high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke, be it in the doctor's office, the ED, community health clinic, long-term care facility or whichever setting you work in?
Please use this blog as the place to share your tips and suggestions with your fellow nurses today - and all American Heart Month long!