Closing the Gap in Hypertension Control Between Younger and Older Adults: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1988 to 2010

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Joint National Committee goal blood pressure for all adults was <140/<90 mm Hg or lower from 1984 to 2013. Adults aged ≥60 years (older) have mainly isolated systolic hypertension, with major trials attaining systolic blood pressure <150 but not <140 mm Hg. The main objective was to assess changes in hypertension control to <140/<90 mm Hg in younger (aged <60 years) and older adults and <150/<90 mm Hg in the latter.

Methods and Results—

National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) 1988 to 1994, 1999 to 2004, and 2005 to 2010 were analyzed in adults aged ≥18 years. From 1988 to 1994 to 2005 to 2010, hypertension control to <140/<90 mm Hg improved in older (31.6% to 53.1%; P<0.001) and younger (45.7% to 55.9%; P<0.001) patients. The age gap in control declined from 14.1% (P<0.01) in 1988 to 1994 to 2.8% (P=0.13) in 2005 to 2010. Better hypertension control reflected increased percentages of older (55.6% to 77.5%) and younger (34.6% to 54.7%) patients on treatment and treated older (45.7% to 64.9%) and younger (56.8% to 73.4%) patients controlled (all P<0.001). Control to <150/<90 mm Hg rose from 48.8% to 69.9% in older adults. Antihypertensive medication number and percentages on ≥3 medications increased in both age groups but increased more in older patients (P<0.01). Blood pressure control was higher in both age groups with ≥2 healthcare visits per year and on statin therapy.


The age gap in hypertension control to <140/<90 mm Hg was virtually eliminated in 2005 to 2010 as clinicians intensified therapy, especially in older patients in whom isolated systolic hypertension predominates, controlling 70% to <150/<90 mm Hg. More frequent healthcare visits and the use of statin therapy may improve hypertension control in all adults.

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