Hypertension Unrelated to Insurance Status, Study Finds
Despite a perception that uncontrolled hypertension is linked to poverty and lack of health insurance, a study published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine has found that "the vast majority" of people with uncontrolled hypertension have health insurance and see a doctor, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports (Donn, AP/Contra Costa Times, 8/16). Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine analyzed data from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and used a sample of 16,095 adults who were at least 25 years old. Ninety-two percent of subjects with uncontrolled hypertension had health insurance, and 86% had a usual source of care. Of subjects who were unaware of their hypertension, 75% had had their blood pressure measured by a health professional in the previous year. Lack of health insurance is "clearly not the main determinant" to having high blood pressure, the researchers said. Of the study population, 27% had hypertension, but only 23% of those with hypertension were taking medicine to control it. People ages 65 or older made up 19% of the study population, but they made up 45% of people who were unaware of their hypertension, 32% of those aware of their condition but not receiving treatment and 57% of those who received treatment but still had uncontrolled hypertension. People ages 25-44 made up the largest portion of the study population; they constituted 22% of people unaware of their hypertension, 27% who knew about their condition but were not receiving treatment and less than 10% who were receiving treatment but still had uncontrolled hypertension. In the study population, blacks had a higher percentage of hypertension than whites. A slightly smaller percentage of blacks than whites were unaware of their condition and a similar percentage of blacks and whites had controlled hypertension. Mexican Americans had a lower percentage of hypertension than either whites or blacks, but Mexican Americans were "markedly more likely" not to know that they had hypertension and were less likely to have controlled hypertension if they were receiving treatment (Hyman et al., NEJM, 8/16).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.