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Am J Hypertens. 2012 May;25(5):583-9. doi: 10.1038/ajh.2012.9. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

Prevalence, awareness, treatment, and control of hypertension among herdsmen living at 4,300 m in Tibet.

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  • 1Department of Cardiology, Beijing Anzhen Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China.



Studies on blood pressure (BP) in high-altitude areas are scarce and the results are controversial. Tibetans live in regions at high altitudes, and data on the prevalence of hypertension in this population is not currently well known.


All Tibetans aged 40 years and older living in the township of Yangbajing (4,300 m) in Tibet, China were invited to participate in the 2009 survey. BP was measured with electronic sphygmomanometers (calibrated by the results of a previous study). Histories of hypertension and medication use were collected through face-to-face interviews. Hypertension was defined as systolic BP (SBP) ≥140 mm Hg and/or diastolic BP (DBP) ≥90 mm Hg, or antihypertensive medication use in the past 2 weeks.


A total of 701 adults (aged 40-89, 42.9% male, 94.9% herdsmen) were recruited. The mean (s.d.) SBP/DBP was 146.6 (31.3)/92.0 (15.7) mm Hg and the prevalence of hypertension was 55.9%. Of note, 61.2% of those with hypertension had stage 2 hypertension (SBP ≥160 or DBP ≥100 mm Hg). At age 70 years and older, the mean (s.d.) SBP/DBP were 182.8 (30.9)/102.6 (13.4) mm Hg. Among those with hypertension (n = 392), only 19.9% were aware of their condition, 2.6% were taking medication, and only one participant had controlled BP.


According to our survey in Yangbajing, Tibetan adults aged 40 years and older living at high altitudes had high BP and prevalence of hypertension with low awareness, treatment, and control. Future studies are needed to clarify the association between BP, altitude, and other possible causes.

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