U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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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 blood pressure (during heartbeats) of 140 mmHg or higher, and/or a diastolic blood pressure (between heartbeats) of 90 mmHg or higher. In 2005–2008, 16.7 percent of adults were identified with high blood pressure (not including those whose blood pressure is controlled by taking antihypertensive medication; data not shown). This did not vary significantly overall by sex, but did vary with age. Among adults aged 65 years and older, women were more likely than men to have high blood pressure (41.4 versus 32.3 percent, respectively), while men aged 20–44 years were more likely than women to have high blood pressure (10.0 versus 3.1 percent, respectively).

Rates of high blood pressure among women vary by race and ethnicity. Non-Hispanic Black women were most likely to have high blood pressure (21.3 percent), followed by non-Hispanic White women (16.3 percent). Nearly 11 percent of Mexican American and 12.4 percent of other Hispanic women also had high blood pressure (data not shown).

Among women identified with high blood pressure in 2005–2008, 54.5 percent had been previously diagnosed by a health professional and were taking medication for the condition. Nearly 12 percent of women identified with high blood pressure had been previously diagnosed by a health professional, but were not taking medication, and 33.5 percent had never been diagnosed. Diagnosis status among women with high blood pressure varies, however, with race and ethnicity. Mexican American women with uncontrolled high blood pressure were most likely to be undiagnosed (45.6 percent), while non-Hispanic Black women were most likely to have been diagnosed and taking medication (61.7 percent).

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