Nearly Half of Adults Say High Blood Pressure Under
Control; Seniors Not Taking Meds
Older people, blacks, Mexican-Americans, and people
with diabetes and chronic kidney disease have higher rates of high blood
pressure and less likely to take blood pressure medications, survey
Oct. 24, 2012 - Nearly half of U.S. adults with
high blood pressure said they had their blood pressure under control by
the end of 2010 - a significant increase from the start of the decade,
researchers reported in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
There was disturbing news, however, revealing that most senior citizens
and some other demographic groups were most likely to not be taking the
recommended drug therapy.
Improvements in blood pressure control were most
likely due to wider use of multiple drug combinations, researchers said.
Researchers at the National Center for Health
Statistics (NCHS) interviewed 9,320 hypertensive participants in the
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-10. By
the end of 2010, 47 percent said they had controlled blood pressure up
from 29 percent 10 years earlier.
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Under JNC7 guidelines, many patients may need
combination therapy with two or more drugs to achieve adequate blood
In the study, almost two-thirds of those on
combination therapy reported they had controlled blood pressure by 2010,
and the use of multiple drugs increased from 37 percent in 2001 to 48
percent by 2010.
Compared with using one drug, single and
multiple-pill combinations were associated with 55 percent and 26
percent increased likelihood of control, respectively.
Much progress has been made in blood pressure
control over the last 10-year period and the use of multiple drug
combinations apparently has had an effect, said Qiuping Gu, M.D.,
Ph.D., an epidemiologist at the NCHS.
Lower cost of medications and their availability in
generic form as well as increased awareness of the risk of uncontrolled
high blood pressure has also had a positive effect.
But some issues continue to be problematic,
The national hypertension treatment guidelines
recommended thiazide diuretics as initial drug therapy for most patients
with uncomplicated hypertension, yet their overall use remains
comparatively low. In addition, nearly half of the hypertensive
population is not being treated with combination therapy, said Charles
F. Dillon, M.D., Ph.D., co-author of the study.
Moreover, rates were lower for older Americans,
African-Americans and people with diabetes and chronic kidney disease.
Mexican-Americans were least likely to take any kind of blood pressure
While there are possibly several factors involved,
more needs to be learned about why only 34 percent of Mexican-Americans
with hypertension have their blood pressure under control, Gu said.
Participants were only asked about medications used in the prior month,
so those who might have taken medications previously were classified as
Furthermore, NHANES blood pressure measurements
were only collected one time, so some people in the study may have been
Other co-authors are: Vicki L. Burt, Sc.M., R.N.;
Charles F. Dillon, M.D., Ph.D.; and Sarah Yoon, Ph.D. Author disclosures
are on the manuscript.
NCHS is part of the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.