High Blood Pressure Facts
Having high blood pressure puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, leading causes of death in the United States.1 People of all ages and backgrounds can develop high blood pressure. Fortunately, it's mostly preventable.
America's High Blood Pressure Burden
- 67 million American adults (31%) have high blood pressure—that’s 1 in every 3 American adults.2
- 69% of people who have a first heart attack, 77% of people who have a first stroke, and 74% of people with chronic heart failure have high blood pressure.3 High blood pressure is also a major risk factor for kidney disease.
- More than 348,000 American deaths in 2009 included high blood pressure as a primary or contributing cause.3
- High blood pressure costs the nation $47.5 billion annually in direct medical expenses and $3.5 billion each year in lost productivity.4
- About half (47%) of people with high blood pressure have their condition under control.2
- Almost 30% of American adults have prehypertension—blood pressure numbers that are higher than normal, but not yet in the high blood pressure range.3 Prehypertension raises your risk of developing high blood pressure.
- Reducing average population sodium intake from 3,300 mg to 2,300 mg per day may reduce cases of high blood pressure by 11 million and save 18 billion health care dollars annually.5
The chart below shows normal, at-risk, and high blood pressure levels.
Blood Pressure Levels
systolic: less than 120 mmHg
At risk (prehypertension)
systolic: 120–139 mmHg
systolic: 140 mmHg or higher
Levels Vary by Age
Women are about as likely as men to develop high blood pressure during their lifetimes. However, for people under 45 years old, the condition affects more men than women. For people 65 years and older, it affects more women than men.3
|Age||Men (%)||Women (%)|
|75 and older||66.7||78.5|
Levels Vary by Race and Ethnicity
African Americans develop high blood pressure more often, and at an earlier age, than whites and Mexican Americans do. Among African Americans, more women than men have the condition.3
|Race of Ethnic Group||Men (%)||Women (%)|
Americans Are Making Progress
Since 1999, more people with high blood pressure—especially those 60 years and older—have become aware of their condition and gotten treatment.3
Talk with Your Doctor About High Blood Pressure
- In 2007, 64.8% of U.S. adults’ visits to a doctor included a blood pressure check.6
- About 1 in 5 (20.4%) U.S. adults with high blood pressure don't know that they have it.3
- In 2009, Americans visited their health care providers more than 55 million times to treat their high blood pressure.3
- About 7 in 10 U.S. adults (69.9%) with high blood pressure use medications to treat the condition.2
- Team-based care that includes the patient, primary care provider, and other health care providers is a recommended strategy to reduce and control blood pressure.7
Take Control of Your Blood Pressure
- Follow your doctor’s instructions and stay on your medications.
- Eat a healthy diet that is low in salt; low in total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol; and rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Take a brisk 10-minute walk, 3 times a day, 5 days a week.
- Don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit as soon as possible. Visit www.cdc.gov/tobacco and www.smokefree.gov for tips on quitting.
- Kochanek KD, Xu JQ, Murphy SL, Miniño AM, Kung HC. Deaths: final data for 2009. National vital statistics reports. 2011;60(3).
- CDC. Vital signs: prevalence, treatment, and control of hypertension—United States, 1999-2002 and 2005-2008. MMWR. 2011;60(4):103-8.
- Roger VL, Go AS, Lloyd-Jones DM, Benjamin EJ, Berry JD, Borden WB, et al. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2012 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2012;125(1):e2–220.
- Heidenreich PA, Trogdon JG, Khavjou OA, Butler J, Dracup K, Ezekowitz MD, et al. Forecasting the future of cardiovascular disease in the United States: a policy statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2011;123(8):933-44. Epub 2011 Jan 24.
- Palar K, Sturm R. Potential societal savings from reduced sodium consumption in the U.S. adult population. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2009;24(1):49–57.
- Hing E, Hall MJ, Ashman JJ, Xu J. National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: 2007 Outpatient Department Summary. National health statistics reports. 2012; no 28.
- Guide to Community Preventive Services. Cardiovascular disease prevention and control: team-based care to improve blood pressure control. 2012. Accessed July 27, 2012.