Hypertension: New guidelines, still costly














The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recently released new clinical practice guidelines for the prevention, detection, and treatment of high blood pressure. The guidelines, which were approved by the Coordinating Committee of the NHLBI's National High Blood Pressure Education Program (NHBPEP), include altered blood pressure categories, including a new "prehypertension" level, that now cover about 22 percent of American adults or about 45 million persons.

"The past six years have brought results from more than 30 clinical studies worldwide, many of which were funded by the NHLBI," said Aram V. Chobanian, MD, dean of Boston University School of Medicine and chair of the Joint National Committee that produced the new guidelines. They include new data on U.S. control, awareness, and treatment rates for high blood pressure.

"Though improved, the treatment and control rates are still too low," said Chobanian.

SOURCE: THE SEVENTH REPORT OF THE JOINT NATIONAL COMMITTEE ON PREVENTION, DETECTION, EVALUATION, AND TREATMENT OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

Estimated cost of hypertension, 2003

Hypertension remains a significant contributor to the total cost of health expenditures Direct and indirect costs amount to $50 billion a year in the United States. The overall death rate from hypertension alone in 2002 was 16.2 per 100,000.

SOURCE: AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION 2002

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