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Hypertension. 1995 Jul;26(1):60-9.

Trends in the prevalence, awareness, treatment, and control of hypertension in the adult US population. Data from the health examination surveys, 1960 to 1991.

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  • 1National Center for Health Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Hyattsville, MD 20782, USA.

Erratum in

  • Hypertension 1996 May;27(5):1192.


The objective of this study was to describe secular trends in the distribution of blood pressure and prevalence of hypertension in US adults and changes in rates of awareness, treatment, and control of hypertension. The study design comprised nationally representative cross-sectional surveys with both an in-person interview and a medical examination that included blood pressure measurement. Between 6530 and 13,645 adults, aged 18 through 74 years, were examined in each of four separate national surveys during 1960-1962, 1971-1974, 1976-1980, and 1988-1991. Protocols for blood pressure measurement varied significantly across the surveys and are presented in detail. Between the first (1971-1974) and second (1976-1980) National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES I and NHANES II, respectively), age-adjusted prevalence of hypertension at > or = 160/95 mm Hg remained stable at approximately 20%. In NHANES III (1988-1991), it was 14.2%. Age-adjusted prevalence at > or = 140/90 mm Hg peaked at 36.3% in NHANES I and declined to 20.4% in NHANES III. Age-specific prevalence rates have decreased for every age-sex-race subgroup except for black men aged 50 and older. Age-adjusted mean systolic pressures declined progressively from 131 mm Hg at the NHANES I examination to 119 mm Hg at the NHANES III examination. The mean systolic and diastolic pressures of every sex-race subgroup declined between NHANES II and III (3 to 6 mm Hg systolic, 6 to 9 mm Hg diastolic). During the interval between NHANES II and III, the threshold for defining hypertension was changed from 160/95 to 140/90 mm Hg.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

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