High Blood Pressure Survey Results

I would like to thank EVERYONE who filled out the high blood pressure survey for me. You are all incredible!  The information I learned from your answers was fulfilling in more ways than just the one I anticipated.  For my thesis work, I will be working with colleagues to ask these questions of some of our patients in the medical center.  We are planning to study how effective an educational intervention we put together can be for improving how much people understand and know about hypertension.  These questions come from a quiz developed by the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute back in 1994. (Publication #94-3671). 

Many of you have asked to see the answers so I thought you would be interested in this overall information.  If you supplied your email address, I’ll email you your individual results directly.  Overall, there were 34 responses and the average score was 75% (which would mean you answered 8 out of 12 questions correctly).

Some even asked how I created the survey.  To do so, I used a WordPress plugin called “Surveys” and it is fantastic! I was able to create the quiz very quickly and results can be seen in aggregrate or individual view.  You can even export to CSV file.  The only drawback I see is that inablity to make an answer be “required” and as such, I had one person’s data who is not counted here because that person did not answer all the questions.  Other than that though, everyone answered all questions. 

Disclaimer:  This is not intended to be medical advice, i’m simply sharing the facts. 

Question 1:  The correct answer to “There is nothing you can do to prevent high blood pressure” is FALSE.  94% of respondents answered this correctly.    There are indeed steps that you can take to prevent high blood pressure (HBP) that include keeping a healthy diet,  exercising regularly,  limit salt & sodium intake, and moderate intake of alcohol. Read here for more.   

Question 2:  The correct answer to “If your mother or father has high blood pressure, you will get it too” is FALSE.  94% of respondents answered this correctly.    You are indeed more likely to get hypertension if it runs in your family, but this does not mean you will get it.  Your chance of getting hypertension are also higher if you’re African-American. But,  HBP is not an inevitable part of getting older and it can be prevented as outlined in Question 1.

Question 3:  The correct answer to “Young adults do not get high blood pressure” is FALSE.  Everyone answered this correctly! It is estimated that about 3% of children have high blood pressure and it often goes missed in this group.  Once you have HBP, you have it for the rest of your life.  So, even kids and young adults need to maintain healthy behaviors to prevent it.  Read more

Question 4:  The correct answer to “High blood pressure has no symptoms” is TRUE.  76% of respondents answered this correctly.  Hypertension usually has no symptoms and this is the reason it is called “the silent killer.” You can have HBP for a VERY long time and not know it precisely because of this.  That is why it is important to have it checked.  Now, I might be one of these people that would argue the wording on this question b/c there are times when you do display symptoms.  However, if you’re displaying symptoms, you are likely to be in a hypertensive crisis which is a SEVERE increase in blood pressure.  But, regular HBP is asymptomatic. 

Question 5: The correct answer to “Stress causes high blood pressure” is FALSE.  Only 18% answered this correctly.  This was interesting that so many people answered incorrectly, but I personally think it gets at one of the common misconceptions about HBP.  I even hear my husband say repeatedly how stress causes HBP, but the official word from the National Heart, Lung & Blood Institute is that stress does not cause HBP.  Stress can cause a temporary increase in your blood pressure, but spikes are normal.  Stress can contribute to HBP, but it is not considered a cause for CHRONIC high blood pressure.   Continued stress over time may contribute to high blood pressure, but there are other factors in people who have high stress levels over time that are more likely to be the culprit rather than the stress itself.  Therefore, it is still important to reduce your stress levels.  Read some tips how

Question 6: The correct answer to “High blood pressure is non life-threatening” is FALSE.  Everyone answered correctly! High blood pressure is the main cause of stroke and factor in the development of heart disease and kidney failure, and heart disease is the #1 cause of death in the United States.  Looks like you all know this!

Question 7: The correct answer to “Blood pressure is high when its at or over 140/90 mmHg” is TRUE.  79% answered correctly.  But, it is important to note that even values slightly under this can put you at risk.  If your blood pressure is between 120-139/80-89, you can be what is called “pre-hypertensive” which means you don’t have high blood pressure now, but are likely to develop it in the future

Question 8: The correct answer to “If you are overweight, you are two to six times more likely to develop high blood pressure” is TRUE.  Everyone answered this correctly! I’m not surprised by that. 🙂  I don’t think much of an explanation is needed here. 

Question 9:  The correct answer to “You have to exercise vigorously every day to improve your blood pressure and heart health” is FALSE.  82% answered correctly.  The trick in this question are the words “vigorously” and “every day.”  While it is true exercise helps keep blood pressure down, all you need is 30 minutes of moderate activity most days of the week.  

Question 10: The correct answer to “Americans eat two to three times more salt and sodium than they need” is TRUE. Everyone answered correctly.  Looks like we are all well-informed on this aspect! The sodium in salt is the part that affects blood pressure and the current recommendation is to consume no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium (about 1 teaspoon of table  salt)  per day

Question 11:  The correct answer to “Drinking alcohol lowers blood pressure” is FALSE. 79% answered this correctly. Drinking alcohol raises blood pressure and the current recommendation is 1 drink/day for women; 2 drinks/day for men.  

Question 12:  The correct answer to “High blood pressure has no cure” is TRUE and 70% answered this correctly.  HBP is a chronic disease, which means that once you have it, you have it for life.  It cannot be cured, but it can be treated and controlled.  The best way to avoid the dangers of HBP is to prevent it! (see Question 1). 
Thank you all again for anwering the quiz.  It has been helpful for me in thinking about how we can approach our project and to get a sense of how people do w/ this quiz.  Thanks!

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