Serious health risk needs more attention at every health care visit

For Immediate Release                                    Connecticut Department of Public Health
September 10, 2012                                       Contact:   William Gerrish
                                                                                       (860) 509-7270

Hartford – Federal health officials released a report last week underscoring the nationwide concern and costly health problem of high blood pressure. Almost 67 million American adults have high blood pressure, and half of them do not have it under control. Uncontrolled high blood pressure is a major contributor to heart disease and stroke. 


This month’s Vital Signs issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds the majority of people with uncontrolled high blood pressure are being treated with medicine yet their condition is not under control. Millions more are either aware they have high blood pressure but aren’t getting treated with medicine or don’t even know they have it.


Improved control of high blood pressure is critical to reducing the burden of heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death in Connecticut and the United States,” stated Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “Doctors, nurses and others in the health care system should identify and treat high blood pressure at every visit, inform patients of their numbers and explain whether their blood pressure is in control. In addition to health care providers making blood pressure a priority, patients can lower their risk by taking blood pressure medications as prescribed, eating a healthy, low sodium diet, exercising, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking.”


Key findings from the Vital Signs report include:

·         Nearly one in three adults (67 million) has high blood pressure

·         36 million have uncontrolled high blood pressure

·         About 22 million know they have it, but don’t have their blood pressure under control

·         16 million take medicine, yet still don’t have their blood pressure under control


According to the report, team-based care is one successful approach to control high blood pressure. Pharmacists, nurses, dieticians, or community health workers can assist doctors in sharing the responsibility for identifying and treating patients with high blood pressure.


The Department of Public Health is working with providers and communities to address uncontrolled blood pressure and reduce the burden of heart disease and stroke among Connecticut’s residents through several initiatives:


·         The Black Resident Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program addresses disparities in Connecticut’s Black residents related to heart disease and stroke. This initiative provides cardiovascular screening and education programs in the Hartford, New London, Bridgeport and New Haven areas about how to recognize the signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke; when to call 9-1-1; high blood pressure prevention and control; high cholesterol prevention and control; and reducing other heart disease and stroke risk factors such as tobacco use, diabetes, physical inactivity, and poor nutrition.


·         The Blood Pressure Measurement Specialist Training Program is a certification program which provides updates to healthcare professionals on current concepts in hypertension detection, evaluation, and treatment. The program offers information on accurately and reliably measuring blood pressure, properly maintaining and calibrating blood pressure equipment, and making recommendations for lifestyle changes that can be taken to reduce the incidence of high blood pressure.


·         The Women’s Healthy Heart Program offers community-level programing to address the modifiable risk factors for heart disease and stroke, and to promote heart-healthy lifestyles for women in the Hartford area.


·         The Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation (WISEWOMAN) Program provides low–income, underinsured or uninsured women aged 40–64 years with cardiovascular risk factor screening and risk reduction services to prevent cardiovascular disease. The program provides screening services that include height and weight measurement, BMI calculation, blood pressure measurement, medical and family history, assessments of physical activity and nutrition habits, and cholesterol and glucose blood tests. Women with abnormal test results are eligible for nutrition, physical activity, and smoking cessation counseling with a registered dietitian to help improve their heart health.


Last year, DPH was awarded $493,891 in federal Affordable Care Act funds to support community prevention efforts to reduce chronic disease and address health disparities. This initiative, known as the Community Transformation Grant, works to reduce the burden of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer, by supporting prevention programs proven to have a positive impact on health.


High blood pressure is defined as blood pressure greater than or equal to 140/90 mm-Hg.  People with high blood pressure are four times more likely to die from a stroke and three times more likely to die from heart disease.


To learn more about high blood pressure, visit Controlling high blood pressure is also a key component of Million Hearts ™, a national initiative to prevent a million heart attacks and strokes by 2017


The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state.  To contact the department, please visit its website at or call (860) 509-7270.