Harvard Health Letter

Hypertension? You're not alone

There's time to take action if you're among the masses.

The news in September was alarming: A third of all Americans have high blood pressure (hypertension), and the majority of them don't have it under control, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "It's a tragedy. In my view, uncontrolled hypertension is probably the biggest public health problem in the United States," says Dr. Anthony Komaroff, editor in chief of the Harvard Health Letter and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Luckily, hypertension is usually something you can fix.

The problem

When the force of blood pushing against your blood vessel walls is constantly too high—hypertension—it injures the vessel walls and forces your heart to work harder, greatly increasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and premature death.

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