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Disparities seen in treatment of hypertension

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted May 20, 2013

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Although it long has been known that there are racial and ethnic disparities in the prevalence of hypertension, a new study shows that those gaps extend to the awareness of having the disease and getting treatment. The findings were published in the May 10 issue of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Overall, hypertension awareness, control and treatment were lowest among Mexican-Americans compared with whites and blacks. Of those Mexican-Americans with hypertension, 68.7% had been told they have hypertension, 58.7% were receiving medical treatment and 35.5% had the disease controlled.

In contrast, awareness for white patients was 79.1%, while 71.2% of whites got treatment. Among blacks, 80.8% knew they had the disease, 71.9% received treatment and 43% had their levels under control.

Mexican-Americans and blacks with hypertension were significantly younger than whites with the disease, which might reflect earlier onset of the condition among those groups, the report said (link). To help remedy the problem, more efforts are needed to reduce patients’ barriers to accessing health care and low-cost medication, as well as increasing physicians’ hypertension treatment knowledge and adherence to guidelines, the authors said.

Researchers examined data on 22,992 adults 18 and older with hypertension who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2010. Hypertension was defined as an average systolic blood pressure of at least 140 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure of at least 90 mmHg. Treatment was identified as the use of blood pressure-lowering medication and did not include lifestyle or dietary approaches.

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