(KCPW News) More than $111 million is spent each year treating high blood pressure in Utah, according to a new report from the Utah Department of Health. That makes it the second-most costly chronic illness in the state behind diabetes. Athena Carolan with the health department’s Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program notes it’s one of the leading risk factors for heart disease and stroke, two of the top leading causes of death in Utah.
“And it’s also known as the silent killer just because if you have high blood pressure you don’t necessarily feel any health symptoms, but then it leads to some of these catastrophic health events like stroke and heart disease later on,” she explains.
Nearly one in four Utah adults suffers from high blood pressure, and while more than 60,000 residents were treated for it in 2010, over a third of those with private insurance or Medicaid who have high blood pressure don’t have it under control.
“By working in these different areas of the community, we hope that it leads to long-term impact and fewer heart attacks and strokes among Utahns, reduced cost, and overall general reduced burden of this disease in our state,” says Carolan.
The risk of high blood pressure increases with age. Half of Utahns age 65 and older report having it, compared to just 10 percent of those between 18 and 44 years old.