High blood pressure common in Americans - The Borneo Post Monday March 4 2002

CHICAGO: Nine out of 10 Americans aged 55 and older are likely to develop high blood pressure, according to a new study.  Researchers at Boston University who studied data on more than 1,000 volunteers over 22 years found that 90 per cent of them were likely to develop hypertension.

Previous studies had pegged the incidence of elevated blood pressure (defined as a blood pressure reading of 140 over 90) among older Americans at 60 per cent.

But with this study, researchers who reviewed data from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's Framingham Heart Study, were looking to find the residual lifetime risk for developing hypertension in an older population.

The risk for the condition increases markedly from 60-onwards, according to the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Hypertension is a major contributor to heart attack, stroke, and kidney and vascular disease.  "If 90 per cent of Americans are going to develop the condition, then clearly there's a case for trying to prevent that happening, rather than treating it once it gets to that point," said Ramachandran Vasan, associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine.

"It is widely accepted that hypertension is preventable through lifestyle modification," the authors wrote.

"The immediacy and magnitude of this risk should encourage middle-aged non-hypertensive individuals to adopt lifestyle-related measures for maintaining optimal blood pressure and for preventing the development of hypertension." AFP