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A Comeback For Hypertension?

A disturbing trend suggests we may be losing ground in the war against hypertension, or abnormally high blood pressure. CBS News Health Correspondent Dr. Emily Senay reports.

After more than a decade of success in raising awareness of the dangerous condition, a study in Friday's journal Hypertension shows that awareness of high blood pressure may be falling again.

The study looked at more than 600 patients in Minnesota who had their blood pressure tested. More than half of the patients had hypertension, and of that group, two out of five were unaware of their condition. Fewer than one in five were actually receiving treatment.

High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and proper detection and treatment is a proven way to dramatically reduce the number of deaths and disabilities among people who suffer from it.

Risk factors for high blood pressure include obesity, age, family history of hypertension, smoking and stress. Everyone should visit their doctor for a routine checkup that includes a blood pressure check once a year, but those at greater risk should be checked more regularly.

If you have high blood pressure, medications are available that are effective in controlling it. Proper diet and exercise can also help keep it down. If you're a smoker, lower blood pressure will be just one of the many benefits of quitting.

For a long time, doctors believed that too much salt raised blood pressure and the risk of heart disease. But studies have found that some people could eat a lot of salt without any noticeable short-term effects on blood pressure.

However, patients who are older, overweight or suffer from kidney problems or diabetes are at higher risk of hypertension from salt intake. African Americans with a particular gene that makes them salt-sensitive also can be at higher risk.

For more information, see the American Heart Association's online guide to high blood pressure.

Reported By Dr. Emily Senay

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