High Blood Pressure
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. An examination of adults’ blood pressure in 2005–2006 showed that men had higher overall rates of high blood pressure than women (17.3 versus 16.0 percent, respectively).
Rates of high blood pressure among women varied by race and ethnicity. Non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic White women were most likely to have high blood pressure (19.9 and 16.3 percent, respectively), while Hispanic women were least likely (11.7 percent).
The prevalence of high blood pressure among both men and women increases with age. Among women in 2003–2006, those aged 65 years and older were most likely to have high blood pressure (47.4 percent), compared to 23.4 percent of women aged 45–64 years. Women aged 20–44 years were least likely to have high blood pressure (3.1 percent).
Antihypertensive drugs work to lower the body’s blood pressure. The proportion of adults with high blood pressure who were not taking medication for the condition varied by sex, as well as race and ethnicity. In 2005–2006, 62.6 percent of men and 42.4 percent of women found to have high blood pressure were not taking antihypertensive medication. Among women with high blood pressure, Hispanics were least likely to be taking medication: 64.4 percent reported not taking antihypertensive medication. Nearly one-third of non-Hispanic Black and 41.1 percent of non-Hispanic White women had high blood pressure but were not taking medication for the condition (data not shown).