Health Buzz: Millions of Americans Have Uncontrolled Blood Pressure

Electronic health records are gaining acceptance; are Americans lazy gluttons?

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CDC: More Than Half of 67 Million Americans With High Blood Pressure Don't Have it Under Control

Thirty-six million Americans have uncontrolled blood pressure, according to a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report released today. Altogether, the report shows, about 67 million American adults have high blood pressure, including 14 million who aren't even aware of their condition. "High blood pressure is public health enemy No. 2," behind tobacco, CDC director Thomas Frieden told USA Today. "There is nothing that will save more lives than getting blood pressure under control." People with high blood pressure are four times more likely to die of stroke and three times more likely to die of heart disease than people with normal blood pressure levels, Frieden told USA Today. Maintaining a healthy weight, eating a nutritious diet, and being physically active will help keep blood pressure in check, advises the CDC, as well as not smoking.

Electronic Health Records Gaining Acceptance

When her 5-week-old daughter Scarlett was hospitalized in March with a potentially life-threatening respiratory virus, Melissa Marote of Canoga Park, Calif., was too distraught to remember everything the doctors and nurses told her. Fortunately, she was able to access her daughter's complete medical records, 24 hours a day, via computer or smartphone through a member portal called "My Health Manager" on kp.org, operated by Kaiser Permanente, which serves as both health insurer and care provider for 8.9 million people in nine states and the District of Columbia.

Marote can review test results and care instructions, request prescription refills, schedule appointments, and swap secure E-mails with her family's doctors, which she does frequently. "They're very good about getting back to me, no matter where I am," she says.

Kaiser is a leader in giving patients online access to their medical information, but this type of access is spreading quickly. "A lot of people have been concerned that technology would put more distance between doctors and patients, but in our experience it brings them closer together," says Phil Fasano, Kaiser's chief information officer. [Read more: Electronic Health Records Gaining Acceptance]

Is America Really a Nation of Lazy Gluttons?

There's no denying it: The last 40 years have seen a tremendous change for the worse in our weights and our health. In response, governments—municipal, state, and federal—have begun taking their first tentative steps toward addressing this public health concern.

A lot of people are opposed to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's rather drastic approach to the obesity problem, calling his proposal to ban super-sized portions of sugary sodas "paternalistic"—yet another example of the nanny state, writes U.S. News blogger Yoni Freedhoff. Those people tend to think a better avenue is to educate people to make better lifestyle choices—they tend to favor an approach that's softer and less dictatorial, one that's perhaps better exemplified by Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign.

While there's a role for both approaches, Mayor Bloomberg might be onto something. Today's food environment is pernicious. Mere education is no match. [Read more: Is America Really a Nation of Lazy Gluttons?]

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