SEATTLE -- A new study finds many people aren't aware they have high blood pressure and those prescribed hypertension meds are not taking them properly.
"The reality is it's called the silent killer for a reason and that is because high blood pressure is very common, and people don't recognize they have it oftentimes until something bad occurs: a stroke, a heart attack, or another complication," said Dr. Richard Krasuski, a cardiologist with the Cleveland Clinic.
Researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada looked at more than 140,000 people from 17 countries, and found 40 percent of the people in the study had high blood pressure, but nearly half of them were unaware.
Of those who were aware of their hypertension, nearly 88 percent were on blood pressure medication, but only a minority of those taking meds had their blood pressure under control.
Researchers say there needs to be a renewed effort to have everyone get their blood pressure regularly checked, and Dr. Krasuski agrees.
"We have to improve awareness," he said. "We have to have people recognize that they need their blood pressure checked. They need to have preventative care. They need make sure that they're eating the proper diets, exercising and all of these other things that prevent high blood pressure."
Complete findings for this study are available in the "Journal of the American Medical Association."