High Blood Pressure Undertreated in Hispanics

High blood pressure among Hispanics common but undertreated

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) High blood pressure is a serious condition, but it can be managed in many patients. Unfortunately, it appears that not all US populations are getting the blood pressure treatment they need.

A new study focused on high blood pressure among Hispanics/Latinos in the US, a rapidly growing population.

The researchers found that while the rate of high blood pressure among Hispanics was similar to the rate of other ethnicities, rates of treatment and management of the condition were lower than among other groups.

"Find a way to exercise that you enjoy."

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can cause a number of serious issues if untreated, including damage to the heart and arteries, stroke, memory loss and kidney damage, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Thankfully, high blood pressure can be managed, or controlled, through steps like medication and lifestyle changes.

However, according to the authors of this new study, led by Paul D. Sorlie, PhD, of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the level of blood pressure control in the US is lower than it could be.

With the number of Hispanic/Latino people in this country growing, Dr. Sorlie and colleagues wanted to examine high blood pressure among this group.

To do so, Dr. Sorlie and team utilized The Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos, a long-term study of 16,415 Hispanics/Latinos between the ages of 18 and 74. These participants were drawn from four communities across the US: Bronx, New York; Chicago, Illinois; Miami, Florida and San Diego, California.

Medical measurements, including blood pressure, were gathered from the participants at the study's start during 2008 to 2011. The participants also answered questionnaires related to heart disease. High blood pressure was defined for this study as a blood pressure measurement of 140/90 mm Hg or higher, or the use of blood pressure medication.

Dr. Sorlie and team found that 25.5 percent of the participants had hypertension, similar to rates found in other ethnic groups. In comparison, in a similar recent study called the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 27.4 percent of non-Hispanic whites were found to have hypertension.

Even though rates of hypertension were similar to those of other groups, high blood pressure did not seem to be as well-controlled among Hispanics.

"The percent with hypertension who were aware, being treated with medication, or had their hypertension controlled was lower compared with US non-Hispanic whites with hypertension and it was lowest in those without health insurance," wrote the study's authors.

Of the Hispanic participants with high blood pressure, 74.1 percent were aware of their high blood pressure, 63.4 percent were being treated and 37.5 percent had their condition controlled. By comparison, among non-Hispanic whites in the NHANES, 81.4 percent were aware, 76.6 percent were being treated and 56.3 percent had their condition controlled.

The researchers found that the rate of high blood pressure increased in this study as the age of participants increased. There seemed to be some further background differences associated with hypertension, as the rates of high blood pressure were highest among those with Cuban, Puerto Rican and Dominican backgrounds.

Further research is needed to confirm these findings and explore the nature of high blood pressure among Hispanics/Latinos in the US. However, Dr. Sorlie and team did note a "significant deficit" in terms of treating and controlling blood pressure among this population.

"The healthcare community, Hispanic/Latino advocates, health policy makers, and the Hispanic/Latino community at large have a challenging task and responsibility to create tailored strategies to improve awareness, treatment, and control of this significant factor for coronary disease, stroke, and heart failure, " these researchers wrote.

This study was published March 13 in the American Journal of Hypertension. No conflicts of interest were reported.

Review Date: 
March 11, 2014
Last Updated:
March 13, 2014