Almost half of U.S. citizens with hypertension are unworried about future CV events like heart attack and stroke, according to a recent survey conducted for the American Medical Association and American Heart Association.
The online survey, which polled 1,000 adults in April and carries a 90% confidence level, was coordinated by Ipsos Public Affairs, a Washington, D.C.-based firm that conducted the research on behalf of the AMA and AHA. In the survey, 55% of respondents with high blood pressure said they worry about having a heart attack, and 56% said they worry about having a stroke.
The research identified possible reasons for this disconnect—hypertension is a well-known major risk factor for stroke and heart attack—could include a lack of symptoms on the patients’ part and difficulty maintaining healthy lifestyles that keep their blood pressure in check.
“Even when people are educated that they’re at risk, they might not be worried because they don’t feel bad,” Michael Rakotz, vice president of health outcomes at the AMA, said in a statement.
He said patients might also be unaware of the long-lasting effects a heart attack or stroke could have on their lives, including the possibility of losing basic functions and mobility. In the statement, Sondra DePalma, a physician assistant at the PinnacleHealth Cardiovascular Institute, said the toll is heavy on not only individuals but also society, which then needs to support the loss of a worker and their care.
The survey also found 22% of hypertensives had checked their blood pressure in the past week, and 40% said their most recent reading was uncontrolled, or higher than the current cutoff of 130/80 mg/dL. An additional 16% said they don’t feel they need to keep track of their readings when they’re taking regular medication.
Rakotz said healthcare providers are key to educating patients about the reality of their conditions, including any heightened risk for future CV events, but they’re overloaded and burned out.
“Part of the problem is that doctors are asked to do so much now,” he said. “Appointments are getting shorter and the list of things we have to cover for prevention and health maintenance is getting longer.
“We need to continue to work to get real stories out there. And we need to do a better job of motivating people to take charge of their health and raising awareness that together we can create a plan to bring their blood pressure under control.”