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CDC: Hypertension-Related Deaths on Rise in U.S.

Blood pressure mortality goes up as deaths from other causes drop

The overall death rate from hypertension in the U.S. has increased 23% since 2000, even as the death rate from all other causes has dropped 21%, health officials reported March 27.

That spike was seen in both genders and was most marked among those aged 45 to 64 years and those over the age of 85, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The age-adjusted deaths from high blood pressure went up, while the other causes of death went down,” said co-author Hsiang-ching Kung, a statistician at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

From 2000 through 2013, the death rate from hypertension rose just over 58% for men 45 to 64 years of age and increased almost 37% for women in the same age group.

Those aged 85 and older were also not spared, with men seeing a 27.5% increase in the death rate from hypertension between 2000 and 2005, while women saw an increase of 23%. Between 2005 and 2013, those rates continued to increase, but more slowly, the researchers found.

Kung said the report cannot answer why these trends are occurring.

Hypertension is a leading cause of heart attack, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, and premature heart-related death.

Despite decades of efforts to improve awareness, treatment, and control of hypertension, large numbers of men and women are still having fatal and nonfatal strokes and heart attacks that could have been prevented, according to Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“High-quality blood pressure management is complex and requires the engagement of patients, families, doctors, the health care systems, and communities,” Fonarow noted.

This effort includes expanding patient and health care provider awareness, appropriate lifestyle changes, access to care, workplace wellness programs, evidence-based treatment, a high level of adherence to taking medications, and adequate doctor follow-up, he said.

“There is a critical need to facilitate and incentivize improvement in blood pressure control and heart health, as well to provide optimal patient care,” Fonarow said.

Kung and co-author Dr. Jia-quan Xu, a CDC epidemiologist, also found that deaths related to hypertension varied by race. The death rate increased among Hispanics between 2000 and 2005. Since then, the death rate increased for whites but decreased among blacks, the researchers found.

Although the overall number of deaths related to hypertension was still higher among blacks than among whites and Hispanics, the gap between them narrowed, according to the report.

“The disparity is narrowing, but more studies are needed to see why that’s the case,” Kung said.

Sources: Medical Xpress; March 27, 2015; and NCHS Data Brief; March 2015.

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