High Blood Pressure Is More Prevalent
But Research Shows More Americans Are Aware They Have Hypertension
Oct. 13, 2008 -- The bad news is that an increasingly high percentage of
Americans have hypertension, or high
blood pressure. The increase is due at least in part to the obesity
epidemic. The good news is that a bigger percentage of people with hypertension
are aware that they have the condition.
The findings are from a new study published in Hypertension: Journal of
the American Heart Association.
Researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination
Survey, which evaluates a nationally representative sample of the U.S.
population. Information about participants is obtained through interviews and
Researchers compared data gathered between 1988 and 1994 with data gathered
between 1999 and 2004. The first group included 16,351 participants, and the
second group included 14,430 participants. All participants were at least 18
The prevalence rate for hypertension rose from 24.4% in the 1988-1994 group
to 28.9% in the 1999-2004 group. The study looked at trends in different race
and gender groups. The prevalence rate for hypertension increased the most in
Across the board, obesity contributed to higher rates of hypertension.
Depending on race and gender, between one-fifth and four-fifths of the
increases could be attributed to increases in
body mass index.
There was some good news. Awareness increased among participants with high
blood pressure, climbing from 68.5% awareness to 71.8%. Women continued to have
higher rates of awareness, though men narrowed the margin somewhat. Treatment
rates also increased from 53.1% to 61.4%, and control rates were also better --
increasing from 26.1% to 35.1%.
"Our success with
hypertension treatment and control, while considerable, is far from
ideal," Jeffrey A. Cutler, MD, lead author of the study and a consultant to
the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's divisions of prevention and
population sciences and cardiovascular diseases, says in a news release.
"Most importantly, we have to do a better job of prevention."
In an accompanying editorial, Theodore A. Kotchen, MD, professor of medicine
and epidemiology and associate dean for clinical research at the Medical
College of Wisconsin, writes: "From both population and patient care
perspectives, the analysis ... provides added impetus for preventing obesity
and encouraging weight loss for the overweight as strategies for
hypertension prevention. This is particularly relevant because the
childhood obesity has increased several fold in the past decade."