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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, a diastolic pressure (between heartbeats) of 90 or higher, or both. In 2004, women had higher overall rates of hypertension than men (258.5 versus 248.6 per 1,000 population); however, this varied by race and ethnicity. For instance, non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic women had higher rates of hypertension than their male counterparts, while non-Hispanic White and Asian women had lower rates. Among women, non-Hispanic Blacks had the highest rate of hypertension (341.1 per 1,000), followed by non-Hispanic Whites (260.0 per 1,000); Asian women had the lowest rate (155.1 per 1,000).

Rates of hypertension increase substantially with age and are highest among those 75 years and older, which demonstrates the chronic nature of the disease. The rate among women aged 18 to 44 years was 93.7 per 1,000 in 2004, compared to a rate of 333.9 per 1,000 among those aged 45 to 64 years, 546.8 per 1,000 among those aged 65 to 74 years, and 620.0 per 1,000 among those aged 75 years and older. This means that almost two-thirds of those in the oldest age group have ever been diagnosed with hypertension.

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Women's Health USA 2006 is not copyrighted. Readers are free to duplicate and use all or part of the information contained on this page. Suggested Citation: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration, Women's Health USA 2006. Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2006.