Americans at Risk for Heart Disease Due to High Blood Pressure

Family physicians observe American Heart Month, raise awareness, help patients achieve optimal heart health

Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017

Janelle Davis
American Academy of Family Physicians
(800) 274-2237, Ext. 6253

LEAWOOD, Kan. - The number of Americans diagnosed with high blood pressure -- a strong risk factor for heart attacks -- is cause for concern as America observes National Heart Month, according to the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians.

The concern stems from a 2016 survey, completed by the American Academy of Family Physicians and conducted by Harris Poll, which found that nearly three in 10 men and women (29 percent) reported they had been diagnosed with high blood pressure. That result mirrors data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(, which also reports that 29 percent of Americans have high blood pressure. The CDC’s numbers translate into 75 million Americans with the condition -- and show that only slightly more than half (54 percent) have it under control.

“This finding is concerning because we know that high blood pressure and heart attacks or chronic heart failure are so closely related,” said John Meigs, Jr., MD, president of the AAFP. “According to the CDC, seven out of 10 people who have a first heart attack have high blood pressure. Seven out of 10 people who develop chronic heart failure have high blood pressure. So it’s important that people know what their blood pressure is and work with their family physician to treat it.”

On a more positive note, the CDC notes that more people -- especially those over the age of 60 -- are aware and being treated for the condition. Still, CDC data show that one in five don’t know they have the condition. Meigs recommended observing American Heart Month by taking steps to prevent heart disease.

“Get your blood pressure checked. If you have high blood pressure, work with your doctor to treat it and lower your risk factors,” he said. “That same advice applies to knowing what your blood cholesterol levels are. You can work with your family physician to prevent or reduce the risk factors that lead to heart disease. Learn about heart health and what you can do in your everyday life to stay healthy.”, a comprehensive health and wellness website, offers multiple, evidence-based resources for learning more about heart health, according to Meigs. Patients can find articles about specific heart-related topics as well as about preventive actions they can take. He pointed to articles on topics such as  high blood pressure(, cholesterol(, and diet and exercise for a healthy heart( In addition, the AAFP and the American College of Physicians recently published a new joint guideline( for treating patients 60 and older who have high blood pressure.

Survey methodology

The survey was conducted online within the United States between April 15-19, 2016, on behalf of AAFP by Harris Poll via its Quick Query omnibus product. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Janelle Davis, 800-274-2237, Ext. 5222, or



Founded in 1947, the American Academy of Family Physicians represents 134,600 physicians and medical students nationwide, and it is the only medical society devoted solely to primary care.

Family physicians conduct approximately one in five of the total medical office visits in the United States per year – more than any other specialty. Family physicians provide comprehensive, evidence-based, and cost-effective care dedicated to improving the health of patients, families and communities. Family medicine’s cornerstone is an ongoing and personal patient-physician relationship where the family physician serves as the hub of each patient’s integrated care team. More Americans depend on family physicians than on any other medical specialty.

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