Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

High Blood Pressure Still Sneaking Past Doctors, Stanford Study Shows

Date:
May 3, 2008
Source:
Stanford University Medical Center
Summary:
Despite the well-known dangers of high blood pressure, major shortfalls still exist in the screening, treatment and control of the disease even when patients are getting a doctor's care, according to a new study.

Despite the well-known dangers of high blood pressure, major shortfalls still exist in the screening, treatment and control of the disease even when patients are getting a doctor's care, according to a study from the Stanford University School of Medicine.

In a unique look at how blood pressure, or hypertension, is being addressed once a patient steps into a doctor's office, the study reported a lack of routine blood pressure screening and a low percentage of patients who are achieving recommended blood pressure goals after diagnosis.

"Doctors should be screening more routinely during all office visits," said co-author Randall Stafford, MD, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. "Dual medication treatment should be seen as standard therapy and intensive lifestyle changes should be encouraged."

Often referred to as "the silent killer," high blood pressure affects more than 65 million people in the United States and is one of the most important and preventable risk factors for cardiovascular disease, strokes and kidney disease. High blood pressure can quietly damage your body for years before actual symptoms develop.

It's this lack of symptoms that is one of the major reasons for gaps in care, researchers said.

"This is a problem that spans much of preventive medicine," Stafford said. "The treatment itself doesn't make patients feel better. If somebody has asthma, they know that if they stop taking medication they're going to start wheezing. With blood pressure medicines, patients don't feel any different."

Because of this, many patients themselves don't follow the doctor's orders or return for follow-up care.

"We know many patients don't take the medications they were prescribed for the doses that were prescribed nor for the duration that was prescribed," said lead author Jun Ma, MD, PhD, a former research associate at Stanford Prevention Research Center who now works as associate staff scientist at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute.

The study, published in the May issue of the journal Hypertension, analyzed data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey 2003-04, a federal survey that captures the provision and use of medical care services in private physician offices in the United States.

"It's the first study that we know of that specifically looks at nationally representative rates of Americans who are screened, treated and controlled for hypertension in the primary care setting," Ma said. The survey recorded such details as whether the blood pressure cuff was brought out, whether appropriate types of medication were prescribed and whether treatment achieved its goal.

"There's been an assumption in the past that these problems have been solved," Stafford said. "Unfortunately, our study indicates a continuing problem. Only 39 percent of patients who are treated were at the recommended blood pressure levels."

The first step toward improving treatment is to increase routine blood pressure screenings even in specialists' offices, Stafford said.

Blood pressure was measured in only 56 percent of all patient visits, according to the survey. That rises to 93 percent in visits by patients diagnosed with hypertension.

"Many physicians in specialized practice appear to feel they don't need to measure blood pressure," he said. The thinking goes, "'I'm a dermatologist so I don't need to screen for high blood pressure.' But because there's a high likelihood of high blood pressure getting missed, we need to take advantage of all opportunities for screening."

The study also found disturbingly high blood pressure levels for certain populations that are most in need of controlling the disorder. Only 20 percent of hypertensive patients who also have diabetes or kidney disease had their blood pressure controlled.

"We need to target lower blood pressure levels in individuals with kidney and heart disease," he said. "The one-size-fits-all, 140/90 mm Hg goal isn't adequate for people who are at higher risk. Their blood pressure should be below 130/80 mm Hg, if possible."

Once a patient is diagnosed with hypertension, physicians need to make clear to patients the types of treatment that will be necessary. And they need to strongly encourage lifestyle changes.

"Physicians may need to tell patients that it's likely to take two or more medications to get blood pressure under control," Stafford said. "They also need to use a comprehensive strategy to attack high blood pressure that includes recommended changes in lifestyle: weight loss, reduction in sodium, a plant-based diet, increases in physical activity. Both patients and physicians need to take advantage of all available strategies."

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging, the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Stanford University Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Stanford University Medical Center. "High Blood Pressure Still Sneaking Past Doctors, Stanford Study Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080501143403.htm>.
Stanford University Medical Center. (2008, May 3). High Blood Pressure Still Sneaking Past Doctors, Stanford Study Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080501143403.htm
Stanford University Medical Center. "High Blood Pressure Still Sneaking Past Doctors, Stanford Study Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080501143403.htm (accessed July 30, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Generics Eat Into Pfizer's Sales

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Pfizer, the world's largest drug maker, cut full-year revenue forecasts because generics could cut into sales of its anti-arthritis drug, Celebrex. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Nigeria Ups Ebola Stakes on 1st Death

Nigeria Ups Ebola Stakes on 1st Death

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 29, 2014) Nigerian authorities have shut and quarantined a Lagos hospital where a Liberian man died of the Ebola virus, the first recorded case of the highly-infectious disease in Africa's most populous economy. David Pollard reports Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Running 5 Minutes A Day Might Add Years To Your Life

Running 5 Minutes A Day Might Add Years To Your Life

Newsy (July 29, 2014) According to a new study, just five minutes of running or jogging a day could add years to your life. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Poses Little Threat To U.S.: CDC

Ebola Outbreak Poses Little Threat To U.S.: CDC

Newsy (July 29, 2014) The Ebola outbreak in West Africa poses little threat to Americans, according to officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins