Untreated hypertension in the UK household population — who are missed by the general health checks?
Hypertension is an age-related, long-term condition and a leading risk factor for premature death and disability worldwide. Due to its asymptomatic nature it can often be left undiagnosed. Long-term treatment is available, but blood pressure can also be reduced through health behaviour changes in weight control, smoking cessation, higher physical activity levels, reduced salt and alcohol intake, and healthful diets if discovered early. This paper investigates the prevalence and characteristics of those with untreated (compared to treated) hypertension who did not have a history of cardiovascular disease (CVD); a group who is in effect missed by general health checks.
Untreated hypertension was studied in 8933 individuals aged 40–74 years representative of the UK household population, who were interviewed and underwent a physical health examination in their home, 2010–2012. The prevalence of untreated hypertension without a history of CVD was 7% for men, 2% for women, and 5% overall. Untreated hypertension was particularly high among the 55–64 year age group.
Age and sex-adjusted analyses found strong positive associations with male gender, smoking, self-reported good–excellent health, full fat dairy preference, white bread preference, higher alcohol consumption, and living alone. Strong negative associations were found for possessing 5 + prescription drugs, statins or antiplatelets, being diagnosed with diabetes or possessing antidiabetics, and long-term limiting illness status.
Notably, many reported their health as good to excellent. A fact which emphasises the importance of motivating individuals to take part in the general health checks for an asymptomatic condition such as hypertension.
Preventive Medicine Reports
Volume and page numbers
4 , 81 -86
Open Access article; Open Access funded by Economic and Social Research Council; Under a Creative Commons license