Prevalence of hypertension in the US adult population: Results from the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1988-1991

V. L. Burt, P. Whelton, E. J. Roccella, C. Brown, J. A. Cutler, M. Higgins, M. J. Horan, D. Labarthe

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The purpose of this study was to estimate the current prevalence and distribution of hypertension and to determine the status of hypertension awareness, treatment, and control in the US adult population. The study used a cross-sectional survey of the civilian, noninstitutionalized population of the United States, including an in-home interview and a clinic examination, each of which included measurement of blood pressure. Data for 9901 participants 18 years of age and older from phase 1 of the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, collected from 1988 through 1991, were used. Twenty-four percent of the US adult population representing 43 186 000 persons had hypertension. The age-adjusted prevalence in the non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic white, and Mexican American populations was 32.4%, 23.3%, and 22.6%, respectively. Overall, two thirds of the population with hypertension were aware of their diagnosis (69%), and a majority were taking prescribed medication (53%). Only one third of Mexican Americans with hypertension were being treated(35%), and only 14% achieved control in contrast to 25% and 24% of the non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic white populations with hypertension, respectively. Almost 13 million adults classified as being normotensive reported being told on one or more occasions that they had hypertension; 51% of this group reported current adherence to lifestyle changes to control their hypertension. Hypertension continues to be a common finding in the general population. Awareness, treatment, and control of hypertension have improved substantially since the 1976-1980 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey but continue to be suboptimal, especially in Mexican Americans. Consideration should be given to revision of the criteria for classification of hypertension to reflect the widespread use of lifestyle modification for treatment of hypertension.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-313
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1995


  • blood pressure
  • cross-sectional studies
  • hypertension, essential
  • prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

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