Frequently called the "silent scourge," high blood pressure is as insidious as it is devastating. Almost invariably, it damages blood vessels silently – causing no pain, no discomfort, no symptoms – until disaster strikes in the form of a stroke, a weakened heart, a burst or dangerously dilated blood vessel, kidney failure, or a heart attack.
According to the most recent Global Health Risks report issued by the World Health Organization, high blood pressure is the leading global risk for mortality. Their research attributed to the condition a staggering annual death toll of 7.5 million, or more than one out of every eight of the world's deaths each year. In the United States, data from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey indicate that 67 million Americans – almost one-third of all U.S. adults – have high blood pressure, and of these, more than half have uncontrolled high blood pressure.
Fortunately, the battle against high blood pressure is not lost. I firmly believe you hold in your hands a critical component to winning your personal struggle with high blood pressure, as well as the greatest hope for defeating the epidemic we face as a society: Blood Pressure Down. Bringing her extensive experience as a dietitian, researcher, and author to bear on the prodigious problem of high blood pressure, Dr. Brill has created a scientifically rigorous, engaging, and practical guide to lowering your blood pressure through specific dietary, physical activity, and weight loss interventions. In doing so, she has distilled decades of research into an easy-to-read treatment program comprised of proven prescriptions for lifestyle changes that lower blood pressure. How effective are these measures? Consider that in one large, rigorously designed trial, over half of the people previously on a blood-pressure-lowering medication were able to stop taking their medication after weight loss and reduction of their salt intake – just two of the ten interventions detailed in this guide. Make no mistake: these changes work.
In a call to action, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Thomas Frieden charged the health care community to make high blood pressure "a priority for every doctor's visit." In the same vein, I urge you to prioritize the daily choices you make about your diet and physical activity in order to improve your blood pressure and overall health. I urge you to read this book and to heed Dr. Brill's evidence-based recommendations.
Medical Director, Preventive Cardiovascular Program
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine
University of Pennsylvania