Chronic disease did not go away during the COVID pandemic

By Dennis Archambault

The recent death of Detroit restauranteur Greg Mudge from hypertension is a sobering reminder that the “silent killer” remains a vital health risk. While we have been preoccupied with enduring the ongoing threat of the COVID pandemic, chronic diseases like hypertension remain a population health concern, especially in Michigan. This state has posted some of the highest rates nationally for cardiovascular disease, which is considered one of the most preventable diseases through medication and lifestyle change. But odds are, people don’t know they have it until they’re diagnosed, and that comes from a medical exam.

Few details have been released on the death of the 46-year-old Mudge, owner of the Corktown restaurant Mudgie’s Del and Wine Bar. Whether or not he was being treated for hypertension is immaterial at this point. What matters is that he died of a disease that is too often untreated until it’s too late. According to a 2018 article in the journal Hypertension, the disease is a serious public health problem in Detroit with nearly 60 percent of the population at risk for having high blood pressure according to American Heart Association guidelines.

The community health community needs to refocus on hypertension education, beginning with routine blood pressure checks. Alerting people that they’re in danger is the best prevention tool. Assuring access to primary care, with supportive navigation to that source, is a close second.

Dennis Archambault is vice president of Public Affairs for Authority Health.