4364.0.55.001 - National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 12/12/2018   
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HYPERTENSION AND MEASURED HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

Hypertension is the medical term for high blood pressure over a long period of time. It can lead to serious health problems such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure or kidney disease[1].

Definitions

Information on diagnosed hypertension and measured high blood pressure was collected in the National Health Survey (NHS). The respondents were:
  • asked whether they had ever been told by a doctor or nurse they had any circulatory conditions (including hypertension or high blood pressure), and
  • invited to take part in measured blood pressure readings (adults aged 18 years and over). 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 2017-18, 31.6% 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 2017-18 National Health Survey.

WHO HAD HYPERTENSION IN 2017-18?

In 2017-18, one in ten Australians (10.6% or 2.6 million people) reported having hypertension, which has remained relatively stable over the past decade (9.4% in 2007-08). The prevalence of hypertension was similar for males and females in 2017-18 (10.5% and 10.7% respectively).

The proportion of males with hypertension decreased from 12.0% in 2014-15 to 10.5% in 2017-18, while the prevalence remained the same for females in both time periods at 10.7%.

The proportion of people with hypertension increases with age, particularly from age 35 years. The proportion of people with hypertension tripled from age 35-44 years (4.2%) to 45-54 years (12.9%). The prevalence continued to increase with just over two fifths (41.5%) of all people aged 75 years and over reporting hypertension.

Graph Image for Proportion of persons with hypertension, 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18


WHO HAD MEASURED HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE IN 2017-18?

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 aged 18 years and over were also invited to have their blood pressure measured. The 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 2017-18, just over one in five (22.8% or 4.3 million people) Australians aged 18 years and over had a measured high blood pressure reading. This has remained unchanged since 2014-15 (23.0%).

Men continued to be more likely than women to have a high blood pressure reading (25.4% compared with 20.3%). This was similar to rates observed in 2014-15 (24.4% and 21.7% respectively).

The proportion of people with measured high blood pressure increased with age from one in twenty (5.5%) aged 18-24 years, one in four (26.4%) aged 45-54 years and nearly one in two (45.2%) amongst those aged 75 years and over.

Graph Image for Persons aged 18 years and over - Proportion with measured high blood pressure, 2017-18

Source(s): National Health Survey: First Results, 2017-18


COMPARISON OF REPORTED HYPERTENSION AND MEASURED HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

For people with high blood pressure there are often no symptoms or signs, as people 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 2017-18, nearly three quarters (73.7%) of all adults with measured high blood pressure did not report having hypertension, which has remained at a similar level since 2011-12 (71.9%). This suggests that many people with measured high blood pressure were either unaware that they were at risk of hypertension or did not consider it to be a long-term or current problem. Almost all 18-34 year olds (96.6%) with measured high blood pressure in 2017-18 did not report having hypertension, compared with over half (56.7%) 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), 2017-18

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, 2017-18


ENDNOTES

1 Heart Foundation, Blood pressure, 2015 <http://heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/know-your-risks/blood-pressure>; last accessed 18/10/2018