Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Pressure Is On to Screen for Hypertension

We know that the prevalence of hypertension has been increasing with the obesity epidemic — but how frequently is it actually measured in our otherwise healthy patients? Shapiro et al. (doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-3888) addressed this question in an interesting study being early released this week. Using data gathered over the past decade from two national ambulatory health surveys, the authors looked at how often blood pressure was measured at all visits, preventive visits, and preventive visits directed specifically toward overweight and/or obese patients. Unfortunately, the results suggest that we are not measuring blood pressure in two thirds of all visits and one third of health maintenance visits, although we do measure it in more than 75% of preventive visits involving overweight or obese patients.

These results are even more concerning should you neglect to inquire about sodium intake in your patients, given the results of Yang et al. (doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-3870) who looked at sodium intake in more than 6,000 children and adolescents and found some disturbing correlations between the level of sodium intake and blood pressure. If you want to learn which of our patients is apt to get a blood pressure check and which will not and why, pressure yourself to read these two articles and be made more aware of the importance of making sure all our patients get screened for hypertension (and sodium intake).