Hypertension :: Increase number of adults with high blood pressure- hypertension

A new analysis of the prevalence of high blood pressure in
the US shows a striking increase over the last 10 years in
the number of adults with this condition.

According to this study, there are about 65 million
hypertensive adults in this country or about a third of US
adults (age 18 and older). This number, based on survey and
examination data from 1999 to 2000, contrasts with data
from 1988 – 1994 which found that about 50 million adults
had hypertension. The data came from the U.S. Census Bureau
and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

The new analysis shows that the proportion of the
population with hypertension grew by about 8 percent in the
last decade. In terms of absolute numbers, the study found
a 30 percent increase in the total number of adults with

The rising trend in hypertension has important consequences
for the public health of this nation. High blood pressure
is a major risk factor for heart disease and the chief risk
factor for stroke and heart failure, and also can lead to
kidney damage.

The hypertension trend is not unexpected given the increase
in obesity and an aging population. Obesity contributes to
the development of hypertension and the current epidemic of
overweight and obesity in the U.S. has set the stage for an
increase in high blood pressure. We also know that high
blood pressure becomes more common as people get older. At
age 55, those who do not have high blood pressure have a 90
percent chance of developing it at some point in their

This is not healthy aging! Fortunately, we can take steps
to reverse this trend. Guidelines issued by the National
Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s National High Blood
Pressure Education Program (NHBPEP) identified a new
prehypertension category. This category was created to
alert people to their risk of developing high blood
pressure so they could make lifestyle changes to help avoid
developing the condition. These changes include losing
excess weight, becoming physically active, limiting
alcoholic beverages, and following a heart-healthy eating
plan, including cutting back on salt and other forms of

Prevention efforts must start early. According to recent
high blood pressure guidelines for children and
adolescents, prehypertension and hypertension are also
significant health issues in the young due in large part to
the marked increase in the prevalence of overweight
children. These guidelines were also issued by the NHBPEP,
which represents 46 professional, voluntary, and Federal

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