(RxWiki News) High blood pressure may be about as common today as it was a decade ago, a new study found. But patients with high blood pressure who visited their doctor more often and who kept their high cholesterol in check were more likely to have lower blood pressure.
A recent large study found that people with high blood pressure who saw their doctor at least twice a year were more likely to keep their blood pressure from going too high than those with high blood pressure who only saw their doctor once a year.
Patients with health insurance and those being treated for high cholesterol were also more likely to have their blood pressure under control.
This study was written by Brent M. Egan, MD of the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Greenville, and colleagues.
They looked at 12,262 adults with high blood pressure who were part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) from 1999 to 2012.
A systolic (top number) pressure of 140 points or more or a diastolic (lower number) pressure of 90 or higher is usually considered high blood pressure. A blood pressure of 120 over 80 is the ideal blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.
High blood pressure can lead to life-threatening conditions like stroke or heart disease.
In their study, the authors found that people who saw their doctor twice a year or more were 3.2 times more likely to keep their blood pressures lower than people who saw their doctor less often.
The study authors also found that people who were obese were the most likely group to keep their blood pressure below 140 over 90. This may be because doctors are faster to prescribe these patients medication to reduce their blood pressure, Dr. Egan suggested in a press release.
If people who are obese can lose weight and live healthier lifestyles — such as by cutting down on salt and exercising — they may also reduce their blood pressure, the study authors noted.
While the number of people with high blood pressure did not change during the 13-year study, the researchers found that more people were being treated for their high blood pressure.
Those whose saw their doctor more often, had health insurance or took medication for high cholesterol were more likely to have better control of their blood pressure, the authors found.
"This study, by Egan et al, suggests that in the last few years, improvement in the nation's health has flattened," said Jeffrey Schussler, MD, an interventional cardiologist at Baylor Heart and Vascular Hospital and Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.
"It seems as though patients who were more compliant (both with medical therapy and with visiting their doctors) did better," said Dr. Schussler, who was not involved in this study. "We're seeing lack of improvement in other areas. This may be due to the obesity epidemic that we're facing in this country."
Although the authors may not know exactly why taking medication for high cholesterol also lowered blood pressure, they were hopeful that a push to reduce people’s cholesterol levels would also lower blood pressure in high blood pressure patients.
The National Institutes of Health, US Army, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state of South Carolina funded the study. Dr. Egan noted that he received funds from Blue Cross Blue Shield South Carolina, Daiichi-Sankyo, Medtronic, Novartis and Takeda.
The study was published Oct. 20 in Circulation.