Facts About Hypertension

Blood pressure is the pressure of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Arteries carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body.

Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, but it can damage your heart and cause health problems if it stays high for a long time. Hypertension, also called high blood pressure, is blood pressure that is higher than normal.

Facts About Hypertension in the United States

In 2017, the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association published new guidelines for hypertension management and defined high hypertension as a blood pressure at or above 130/80 mmHg. Stage 2 hypertension is defined as a blood pressure at or above 140/90 mmHg. 1

Blood Pressure Categories
Blood Pressure Category Systolic Blood Pressure Diastolic Blood Pressure
  Normal <120 mmHg and <80 mmHg
  Elevated 120-129 mmHg and <80 mmHg
Hypertension
  Stage 1 130-139 mmHg or 80-89 mmHg
  Stage 2 ≥140 mmHg or ≥90 mmHg
  • Having hypertension puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke, which are leading causes of death in the United States.2
  • In 2019, more than half a million deaths in the United States had hypertension as a primary or contributing cause.2
  • Nearly half of adults in the United States (47%, or 116 million) have hypertension, defined as a systolic blood pressure greater than 130 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure greater than 80 mmHg or are taking medication for hypertension.3
  • Only about 1 in 4 adults (24%) with hypertension have their condition under control.3
  • About half of adults (45%) with uncontrolled hypertension have a blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher. This includes 37 million U.S. adults. 3
  • About 34 million adults who are recommended to take medication may need it to be prescribed and to start taking it. Almost two out of three of this group (19 million) have a blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher.3
  • High blood pressure was a primary or contributing cause of death for 516,955 people in the United States in 2019.2
  • High blood pressure costs the United States about $131 billion each year, averaged over 12 years from 2003 to 2014.4

Rates of High Blood Pressure Control Vary by Sex and Race

Uncontrolled high blood pressure is common; however, certain groups of people are more likely to have control over their high blood pressure than others.

  • A greater percentage of men (50%) have high blood pressure than women (44%).3
  • High blood pressure is more common in non-Hispanic black adults (56%) than in non-Hispanic white adults (48%), non-Hispanic Asian adults (46%), or Hispanic adults (39%).3
  • Among those recommended to take blood pressure medication, blood pressure control is higher among non-Hispanic white adults (32%) than in non-Hispanic black adults (25%), non-Hispanic Asian adults (19%), or Hispanic adults (25%).3

Rates of High Blood Pressure Vary by Geography

High blood pressure is more common in some areas of the United States than in others. Below is a map showing the self-reported rate of hypertension by state in 2011 (using a definition of hypertension as a blood pressure ≥140/≥90 mmHg). However, this map likely underreports the true effect of hypertension in each state, because about 1 in 5 adults with high blood pressure is unaware of it and would not report having it.5

This map shows the highest rates of hypertension prevalence are located in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Indiana. The high rates range in value from 32 to 38.6 percent of adults 20 years and older reporting they have been told by a doctor that they have high blood pressure.

Source: Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

CDC’s Public Health Efforts Related to High Blood Pressure

Learn More About Hypertension

For more information about high blood pressure, visit the following websites:

References

  1. Whelton PK, Carey RM, Aronow WS, Casey DE, Collins KJ, Dennison C, et al. 2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA Guideline for the prevention, detection, evaluation, and management of high blood pressure in adultsexternal icon. Hypertension. 2018;71(19):e13–115.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics. About Multiple Cause of Death, 1999–2019. CDC WONDER Online Database website. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2019. Accessed February 1, 2021.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hypertension Cascade: Hypertension Prevalence, Treatment and Control Estimates Among U.S. Adults Aged 18 Years and Older Applying the Criteria from the American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association’s 2017 Hypertension Guideline—NHANES 2015–2018external icon. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2021. Accessed March 12, 2021.
  4. Kirkland EB, Heincelman M, Bishu KG, et. al. Trends in healthcare expenditures among US adults with hypertension: national estimates, 2003-2014. J Am Heart Assoc. 2018;7:e008731.
  5. Farley TA, Dalal MA, Mostashari F, Frieden TR. Deaths preventable in the U.S. by improvements in the use of clinical preventive servicesexternal icon. Am J Prev Med. 2010;38(6):600–609.