DETROIT (WWJ) – Southeast Michigan is number two on a just-released national list of hypertension hotspots.

WWJ spoke with Dr. Susan Steigerwalt, a hypertension specialist at Providence Hospital, who said the state’s economy is playing a role, with some patients now skipping doctor visits and blood pressure pills to save money.

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She said it also has to do with diet and environment.

“It’s related to our overweight and inactive physical lifestyle, as well as dietary habits like sugared beverages and fast food. But there’s also a genetic predisposition that makes us quote-unquote set up to develop high blood pressure,” Steigerwalt said.

Steigerwalt said, in particular, drinking pop, can raise your blood pressure, although researchers don’t quite know why.

“There are large studies that have recently been done that have shown that sugar alone, in that form, may help increase blood pressure. We think it may be mediated through an increase in uric acid,” she said.

Here’s the Top 10 list compiled by Sperling’s BestPlaces (sponsored by Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America)

1. Memphis, Tenn./Miss./Ark.

2. Detroit-Livonia-Dearborn, Mich.

3. Louisville-Jefferson County, Ky./Ind.

4. Birmingham-Hoover, Ala.

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5. Dayton, Ohio

6. Pittsburgh, Pa.

7. Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y.

8. St. Louis, Mo./Ill.

9. Oklahoma City, Okla.

10. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla.

Hypertension is defined as elevated blood pressure about 140 mm Hg or greater systolic or 90 mm Hg or greater diastolic. High blood pressure typically has no symptoms. Of Americans who have hypertension,reports say an estimated 20 percent are still unaware they have it. If left uncontrolled, doctors say hypertension can lead to serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and congestive heart failure.

Having high blood pressure can also shorten life expectancy by about five years.

“The reality is hypertension is a widespread health concern that can lead to serious health consequences such as stroke and heart attack if left
uncontrolled,” said Michael Bloch, M.D., American Society of Hypertension board-certified clinical hypertension specialist from Reno, Nev.

“Hypertension is treatable, so there is no reason for patience to wait to begin lowering their blood pressure and get to goal,” he said.

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Visit this link to see a full list of the 50 Hypertension Hot Spots and get more information about controlling hypertension.