Nearly 1 in 3 Americans suffers from high blood pressure and more than half don’t have it under control, says a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the report, most people with uncontrolled high blood pressure have health insurance and had actually seen a doctor at least twice in the previous year, yet their condition remained unmanaged.
High blood pressure is defined as a reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher (if either the top or bottom number meets the threshold, blood pressure is considered high). Having high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke: hypertensive people are four times more likely to die from a stroke and three times more likely to die from heart disease than people with normal pressure, according to CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden. Together, those two conditions cause nearly 1,000 deaths a day in the U.S. and account for $131 billion in yearly health-care costs. “[High blood pressure] is public health enemy No. 2, second to tobacco,” said Frieden in a teleconference on Tuesday.