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Nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, CDC says

Half of all U.S. adults have high blood pressure, according to the CDC's latest estimates. Photo by agilemktg1/Flickr
Half of all U.S. adults have high blood pressure, according to the CDC's latest estimates. Photo by agilemktg1/Flickr

April 24 (UPI) -- Nearly half of all American adults have high blood pressure, according to new figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In estimates released Friday, the agency reported that, in 2017-18, more than 45 percent of people 18 years of age and older had blood pressure above the threshold for hypertension -- high blood pressure -- of 130/80 mmHg.

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Notably, this figure has remained relatively stable for 20 years -- though it dipped briefly to roughly 42 percent in 2009-2010 and 2013-2014.

In 1999-2000, 47 percent of all adults in the U.S. met the CDC's criteria for high blood pressure, according to the latest report.

And, as was the case two decades ago, high blood pressure remains more common among men than women. The CDC estimates that, in 2017-18, 51 percent of men had high blood pressure, compared to slightly less than 40 percent of women.

Part of the explanation for the lack of change in the prevalence in hypertension over the first two decades of the 21st century involves revisions to how the condition is defined, the CDC noted. In 2017, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association released new guidelines that lowered the threshold for high blood pressure from 140 mmHg for systolic and 90 mmHg for diastolic.

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If the old threshold was still being used, the agency's 2017-2018 estimate for the prevalence of hypertension would be less than 31 percent.

"In general, lowering the blood pressure threshold for the diagnosis of hypertension is expected to result in earlier treatment," the CDC noted.

The prevalence of high blood pressure seems to increase with age, the CDC found. In all, 22 percent of Americans between 18 and 39 years of age had the condition in 2017-18, but that figure increased to 55 percent among those between 40 and 59 years age and to 75 percent among those 60 years of age and older.

There are racial differences as well, with the prevalence of hypertension higher among black adults, at 57 percent, than white or Hispanic adults, at roughly 44 percent each. In addition, college graduates had a significantly lower prevalence of the condition, at 39 percent, than adults with high school education or less, at 47 percent.

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