Hypertensive Americans not eating right

By Tom Nordlie • Published: June 4th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Eating healthy is always a good idea.

Sometimes it can literally make the difference between life and death.

Case in point… people with high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

One in three adult Americans has it. And every year, about fifty-five-thousand of them die from it.

The good news is, hypertension can be controlled. Experts recommend that patients eat a standardized diet that reduces salt intake and includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy items… the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH [dash], diet.

Yet, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, only one-fifth of Americans with hypertension are eating like they should.

Researchers looked at data from more than thirteen-thousand volunteers who participated in national health surveys from 1999 to 2004.

About one-quarter of them reported having hypertension.

The volunteers provided medical histories, received physical examinations and completed dietary questionnaires.

Diet-wise, the researchers were especially interested in nine nutrients, including sodium, fat and cholesterol.

They compared the volunteers’ consumption of those nutrients with the amounts they’d get from a hypertension-control diet.

About nineteen percent of the hypertensive volunteers were complying, or almost complying, with the recommended diet.

That’s down from almost twenty-seven percent in an earlier study, from 1988 to 1994.

The worst scores were found among African-Americans, young people and those with high body mass index.

If this trend keeps up, it’ll probably mean more needless deaths.

So if you have hypertension, be heart smart: Follow your doctor’s advice and eat right.