(HealthDay News) — Twice-yearly visits to the doctor can help keep hypertension under control better than only seeing the doctor once a year, according to a study published online October 20 in Circulation.

Researchers analyzed data from 37,000 American adults who had their blood pressure checked between 1999–2012. Those who saw their doctor at least twice a year were 3.2 times more likely to keep their hypertension under control than those who saw their doctor once a year or less. Even after controlling for factors such as diabetes, smoking, and body fat, doctor visits were the strongest predictor of hypertension control. Having health insurance and being treated for high cholesterol also improved the chances of keeping hypertension in check.

The researchers also found that obese people were more likely to keep their blood pressure under control. This is “probably because doctors recognize the need to control risk factors and may be quicker to give them blood pressure medications,” study author Brent Egan, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Greenville, said in a journal news release.

As many as 80% of the 78 million American adults with hypertension know they have the condition. But only 75% receive treatment, and only about half have it controlled under 140/90mmHg, according to the American Heart Association. People with blood pressure of ≥140/90mmHg should make lifestyle changes such as losing weight, eating healthy, exercising, and, if necessary, taking medication, the heart association advises.

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