What is the prevalence of hypertension (high blood pressure) awareness of in the US?

Updated: Feb 22, 2019
  • Author: Matthew R Alexander, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Eric H Yang, MD  more...
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Answer

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), approximately 86 million adults (34%) in the United States are affected by hypertension, which is defined as a systolic blood pressure (SBP) of 140 mm Hg or more or a diastolic blood pressure (DBP) of 90 mm Hg or more, taking antihypertensive medication, or having been told by clinicians on at least 2 occasions as having hypertension. [4] Substantial improvements have been made with regard to enhancing awareness and treatment of hypertension. However, a National Health Examination Survey (NHANES) spanning 2011-2014 revealed that 34% of US adults aged 20 years and older are hypertensive and NHANES 2013-2014 data showed that 15.9% of these hypertensive adults are unaware they are hypertensive; these data have increased from NHANES 2005-2006 data that showed 29% of US adults aged 18 years and older were hypertensive and that 7% of these hypertensive adults had never been told that they had hypertension. [4]

Furthermore, of those with high blood pressure (BP), 78% were aware they were hypertensive, 68% were being treated with antihypertensive agents, and only 64% of treated individuals had controlled hypertension. [4] In addition, previous data from NHANES estimated that 52.6% (NHANES 2009-2010) to 55.8% (NHANES 1999-2000) of adults aged 20 years and older have prehypertension, defined as an untreated SBP of 120-139 mm Hg or untreated DBP of 80-89 mmHg. [4] (See Epidemiology.)

Data from the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure (JNC 7), which was released in 2003, were relatively similar to the NHANES data. The JNC 7 noted that approximately 30% of adults were unaware of their hypertension; up to 40% of people with hypertension were not receiving treatment; and, of those treated, up to 67% did not have their BP controlled to less than 140/90 mm Hg. [5]


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