4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/12/2015   
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HYPERTENSION AND MEASURED HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

Hypertension (commonly known as high blood pressure) can lead to serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure or kidney disease[1].

    Definitions

    Information on hypertension was collected in the National Health Survey using two methods. These were:
    • a question on whether respondents had ever been told by a doctor or nurse they had any circulatory conditions (including hypertension or high blood pressure), and
    • for adults aged 18 years and over, the taking of blood pressure measurements. A person was defined as having high blood pressure if their systolic/diastolic blood pressure was equal to or greater than 140/90 mmHg[1]. In 2014-15, 24.3% of respondents aged 18 years and over did not have their blood pressure measured. For these people, blood pressure was imputed. For more information see Appendix 2: Physical measurements in the 2014-15 National Health Survey.

Hypertension

In 2014-15, 11.3% of Australians (2.6 million people) reported having hypertension, with prevalence higher amongst males than females (12.0% compared with 10.7% respectively). The prevalence of people reporting having hypertension has remained relatively stable over the past decade (10.7% in 2004-05).

The prevalence of hypertension increases with age, with just under half (45.5%) of all people aged 75 years and over reporting having hypertension in 2014-15.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons with hypertension, 2001 to 2014-15

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15



Measured high blood pressure

In addition to asking respondents whether they had ever been told by a doctor or nurse that they had hypertension or high blood pressure, respondents 18 years and over also had their blood pressure measured. Numbers of people with high blood pressure presented in this section are based on these measurements, and do not include people who have high blood pressure but are managing their condition through the use of blood pressure medications.

In 2014-15, 23.0% of all Australians aged 18 years and over (4.1 million people) had measured high blood pressure. This was higher than 2011-12, when 21.5% of adults had measured high blood pressure.

Overall, men were more likely to have high blood pressure than women (24.4% and 21.7% respectively), while the proportion of Australians with high blood pressure increased with age. Just under half (46.9%) of all people aged 75 years and over had measured high blood pressure in 2014-15.

Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Proportion with high blood pressure, 2011-12 to 2014-15

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15



Comparison of reported hypertension and measured high blood pressure

For people with high blood pressure there are often no symptoms or signs - they can have high blood pressure yet feel well[1]. The inclusion of two methods for assessing prevalence of high blood pressure in the National Health Survey allows an assessment of whether people with the condition are aware that they have it.

In 2014-15, of all adults with measured high blood pressure, nearly three-quarters (71.1%) did not report having hypertension (similar to 2011-12). This suggests that many people with high blood pressure were either unaware that they had the condition or did not consider it to be a long-term or current problem. Almost all 18-34 year olds (96.5%) with measured high blood pressure in 2014-15 did not report having hypertension, compared with around half (53.3%) of people aged 75 years and over.

Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over- Proportion with high blood pressure who did not self-report hypertension(a), 2014-15

Footnote(s): (a) Measured systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mmHg and/or diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 90mmHg

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2014-15



ENDNOTES

1 Heart Foundation, 2015, Blood pressure <http://heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/know-your-risks/blood-pressure>; last accessed 04/12/2015.