Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a risk factor for a number of conditions, including heart disease and stroke. It is defined as a systolic pressure (during heartbeats) of 140 or higher, and/or a diastolic pressure (between heartbeats) of 90 or higher. A study in 2005–2006 tested adults’ blood pressure and found that men had higher overall rates of hypertension than women (165.8 versus 152.7 per 1,000 population).

Rates of hypertension among women varied significantly by race and ethnicity. For instance, rates of hypertension were highest among non-Hispanic Black women (179.2 per 1,000 women) and non-Hispanic White women (157.0 per 1,000). The rates of hypertension among Hispanic women and non-Hispanic women of other races were fewer than 120 per 1,000 women.

Rates of hypertension increase substantially with age and are highest among those aged 75 years and older, which demonstrates the chronic nature of the disease. Nearly 25 per 1,000 women aged 18–44 years had hypertension in 2005– 2006, compared to 374.7 per 1,000 women aged 65–74 years and 462.7 per 1,000 women aged 75 years and older. Nearly 200 per 1,000 women aged 45–64 years had hypertension (data not shown).

Among adults aged 45 years and older, 16.3 percent of women and 15.2 percent of men who were found to have hypertension had never been told by a health professional that they have hypertension, or were undiagnosed at the time of the examination. Undiagnosed hypertension also increased with age among both women and men. While more than 10 percent of women aged 45–64 years with hypertension had never been diagnosed, 23.8 percent of women aged 65–74 years and 42.6 percent of women aged 75 years and older had never been diagnosed.

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