High blood pressure sending more Americans to the ER

High blood pressure sending more Americans to the ER

New research finds that emergency room visits for high blood pressure in the United States shot up a whopping 25 percent in just five years.

The study, led by Dr. Sourabh Aggarwal, tracked approximately 4 million ER visits in the U.S. between 2006 and 2011. At the beginning of that five-year period, Dr. Aggarwal found that high blood pressure was the reason for every 71 visits per 100,000 patients. By 2011, that figure had jumped to 85. 

On the flip side of that finding, though, was that hospital admissions for hypertension had dropped by 15 percent over the same five years, and related deaths fell an even further 15 percent. Although Aggarwal was unable to find conclusive evidence for what may be driving further people to the emergency room, he speculates it's due to a lack of visits with a primary care doctor, and that oftentimes high blood pressure is only discovered after a patient complains about some other issue.

Another possible cause of this increase in ER visits? Americans are eating too much salt. Current data collected by the American Heart Association and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that the average American consumes 3,400 milligrams (mg) of salt per day — far beyond the recommended amounts of 1,500 to 2,300 mg. As we shared with your earlier, 90 percent of children in America are eating unhealthy levels of sodium too. A high salt intake is frequently linked to hypertension, which in turn raises risks for conditions like heart disease and stroke.

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