Blood Pressure on the Rise in America

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter
Monday, October 13, 2008; 12:00 AM

MONDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- More Americans than ever are being treated for high blood pressure, say researchers from the U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

The major factor in the dramatic increase in the number of Americans with high blood pressure appears to be the obesity epidemic rife in the United States, they noted.

"Additional efforts are needed to prevent hypertension from developing in the first place, with primary emphasis on prevention of obesity," said lead researcher Paul Sorlie, chief of the Epidemiology Branch in the institute's Division of Prevention and Population Sciences. "For those who have hypertension, additional efforts are needed to diagnose, treat and effectively control hypertension to reduce the adverse outcomes associated with hypertension."

The report was published in the November issue ofHypertension.

For the study, Sorlie's team collected data on a total of 30,781 people who participated in two National Health and Nutrition Examination surveys, one which ran from 1988 to 1994 and the other which covered 1999 to 2004.

The researchers found that between the two surveys, high blood pressure had increased in both men and women. For women, the increase started at age 40 and among men at age 60.

From 1994 to 2004, the percentage of Americans with high blood pressure increased from 50.3 percent to 55.5 percent. In addition, the number of people with prehypertension -- those likely to develop high blood pressure-- increased from 32.3 percent to 36.1 percent.

During the study period, 72 percent of those with high blood pressure knew they had it, and 61 percent were being treated, but only 35 percent had their blood pressure under control, Sorlie's group found.

The number of people who were aware of high blood pressure rose by 5 percent, particularly among black women. The treatment rates across race and gender also increased. Significant increases were seen among white men and black men and women, the researchers noted.

Moreover, the rate of those who had their blood pressure under control also increased. Among black men, blood pressure control rates increased, from 17 percent to 30 percent, and among white men it rose from 22 percent to 39 percent.

However, the number of white women with high blood pressure who had their blood pressure under control did not increase.

Of all groups, Mexican Americans had the lowest blood pressure control rates. This is especially true for young men (16 percent) and older women (19 percent), Sorlie's group found.


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