Almost One-Third of U.S. Adults Have Hypertension, Study Finds
Almost one-third of U.S. adults have hypertension, and the number who have the condition has increased by about 30% over the past 10 years, according to a study published on Tuesday in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association, the Wall Street Journal reports. The study, based on U.S. Census data and a survey of 4,531 adults conducted between 1999 and 2000, estimated that about 65 million U.S. adults have hypertension; a similar study conducted between 1998 and 1994 estimated the number at about 50 million (Winslow, Wall Street Journal, 8/24). The new study estimated that about 31.3% of U.S. adults have hypertension (Stein, Washington Post, 8/24).
Previous studies have found that hypertension rates among U.S. adults reached a high of 36% in the 1970s and reached a low of about 20% between 1988 and 1991 (Sternberg, USA Today, 8/24). Individuals with hypertension in most cases have a systolic blood pressure of 140 or higher or a diastolic pressure of 90 or higher (Fauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8/23).
For the study, led by Dr. Larry Fields, an adviser to the assistant secretary of HHS, researchers considered individuals who took medication for hypertension, had a medical history of the condition or were diagnosed with the condition based on three measures (Wall Street Journal, 8/24). Hypertension is an important risk factor for coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and other conditions, Fields said (Reuters/Los Angeles Times, 8/24).
The study estimated that in the United States, about 28.7% of women and 28.3% of men have hypertension (Wall Street Journal, 8/24). Among ethnic groups, blacks have the highest rate of hypertension at 39.8%, followed by Mexican Americans at 28.7% and non-Hispanic whites at 27.2%, according to the study (Washington Post, 8/24). The study also estimated that about 81% of U.S. adults who have hypertension are older than age 45 (Ritter, Chicago Sun-Times, 8/24).
Although the study did not examine the cause of the increase in the rate of hypertension among U.S. adults, Fields attributed the rise in large part to the increased number of elderly residents and residents who are overweight or obese. He said that more exercise and improved diet can help prevent and control hypertension (Wall Street Journal, 8/24). Fields added, "From a public and health professional perspective, it is important to be aware of high blood pressure, to have blood pressure checked regularly, and if blood pressure is elevated, to initiate appropriate treatment" (Washington Post, 8/24).
Previous studies have found that among U.S. residents who have hypertension, about 30% are unaware of their conditions and only 34% have their conditions under control. Fields said that results of the new study also raise concerns about progress against cardiovascular disease in the United States (Wall Street Journal, 8/24).
David Goff of Wake Forest University Health Sciences and a spokesperson for the American Heart Association, said, "These findings have serious implications for health care policy and public health policy."
Barbara Alving, acting director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, said, "We hope that this new data will serve as a wake-up call to physicians, other health care professionals and the public. More aggressive prevention and treatment of high blood pressure is needed" (Washington Post, 8/24).
Jeffrey Cutler, a senior scientific adviser with NHLBI added, "We sort of saw it coming. It is somewhat alarming" (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8/23).
Dr. Daniel Jones, dean of the School of Medicine for the University of Mississippi Medical Center, said, "The big message to the American public on that is that we need to pay attention to our lifestyle and those that are overweight need to get slimmer" (Stengle, AP/Columbia State, 8/23).
ABCNews' "World News Tonight" on Monday reported on the study. The segment includes comments from Dr. Benjamin Ansell of the University of California-Los Angeles School of Medicine, Fields and Dr. Richard Stein of the American Heart Association (McKenzie, "World News Tonight," ABCNews, 8/23). The complete transcript is available online. NBC's "Nightly News" on Monday also reported on the study. The segment includes comments from Fields (Potts, "Nightly News," NBC, 8/23). The complete segment is available online in Windows Media.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.