Smoking and High Blood Pressure a Deadly Duo
Reported April 29, 2009
(Ivanhoe Newswire) Smoking and high blood pressure are both taking a large toll on American health.
Harvard researchers who devised a comparative risk assessment aimed at quantifying how common lifestyle factors impact mortality rates find smoking and high blood pressure are each responsible for about one in 5 preventable deaths in the U.S. A comparative risk assessment looks at what would happen if no one, for example, smoked, or everyone had normal blood pressure levels.
The investigators used data from large national health surveys to come up with these statistics. Results linked nearly 470,000 of the 2.5 million deaths in the U.S. in 2005 to smoking and nearly 400,000 to high blood pressure. About one in 10 deaths were chalked up to being overweight or obese, while one in 25 were linked to a high intake of salt. Salt was the single most important dietary factor linked to preventable death.
The authors believe targeting just a few of these modifiable risk factors — so-called because they can easily be changed through societal and individual efforts — could put a significant dent in the number of preventable deaths each year in this U.S. They call for more research into these risk factors, better implementation of preventive efforts, greater monitoring of programs aimed at getting people to live healthier lives, and evaluation of the results.
SOURCE: PLoS Medicine, published online April 27, 2009