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Hypertension and measured high blood pressure

Contains key statistics and information about hypertension and high blood pressure prevalence in Australia, including state and territory findings

Reference period
2017-18
Released
12/12/2018
Next release Unknown
First release

Key statistics

  • 2.6 million Australians reported having hypertension.
  • 74% of all adults with measured high blood pressure did not report having hypertension.
  • The prevalence of hypertension was similar for males and females (11%).

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].

Key findings

  • 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%).
     

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.

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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.

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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.

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a. Measured systolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 140 mmHg and/or diastolic blood pressure greater than or equal to 90mmHg.

State and territory findings

Adults (18 years and over)

  • Just over one in five (22.8%) Australian adults had measured high blood pressure (systolic or diastolic blood pressure equal to or greater than 140/90 mmHg). 
  • Rates were highest in Tasmania (27.2%) compared with the Northern Territory (16.3%) which had the lowest.
     

New South Wales

  • In 2017-18, just over one in five (21.8%) adults had a measured high blood pressure reading, which has remained relatively stable since 2011-12 (21.5%).

Victoria

  • In 2017-18, almost one quarter (24.0%) of adults had a measured high blood pressure reading, which has remained relatively stable since 2011-12 (22.7%).

Queensland

  • In 2017-18, just over one in five (21.8%) adults had a measured high blood pressure reading.

South Australia

  • In 2017-18, one quarter (25.4%) of adults had a measured high blood pressure reading, remaining unchanged since 2014-15 (24.5%) and 2011-12 (23.3%). 
     

South Australia had a higher rate of adults with measured high blood pressure compared with Australia (25.4% compared with 22.8%). The older age structure of South Australia contributes to this as the difference does not remain after differences in age structures were taken into account.

Western Australia

  • Over one in five (23.0%) adults had a measured high blood pressure reading.

Tasmania

  • In 2017-18, more than one quarter (27.2%) of adults had a measured high blood pressure reading.
     

Tasmania had a higher rate of measured high blood pressure reading compared with Australia (27.2% compared with 22.8%). While the older age structure of Tasmania contributes to this difference, the difference remains even after differences in age structures were taken into account.

Northern Territory

  • In 2017-18, almost one in six (16.3%) adults had a measured high blood pressure reading.
     

Northern Territory had a lower rate of adults who had a measured high blood pressure reading compared with Australia (16.3% compared with 22.8%). While the younger age structure of Northern Territory contributes to this difference, the difference remains even after differences in age structures were taken into account.

Australian Capital Territory

  • In 2017-18, around one in five (19.9%) adults had a measured high blood pressure reading.
     

Australian Capital Territory had a lower rate of adults who had a measure high blood pressure reading compared with Australia (19.9% compared with 22.8%). The Australian Capital Territory has a younger age structure than Australia as a whole (median age of 35 years compared with 37 nationally) and this contributes to this, as the difference does not remain when differences in age structures were taken into account.

Data downloads

Table 1: Summary health characteristics, 2001 to 2017–18 - Australia

Table 2: Summary health characteristics, 2017–18 - states and territories

Table 3: Long-term health conditions - Australia

Table 4: Long-term health conditions by population characteristics - Australia

Table 5: Selected current long-term conditions by health risk factors and health status - Australia

Table 6: Health risk factors by population characteristics - Australia

Table 14: Measured blood pressure - Australia

Table 20: New South Wales

Table 21: Victoria

Table 22: Queensland

Table 23: South Australia

Table 24: Western Australia

Table 25: Tasmania

Table 26: Northern Territory

Table 27: Australian Capital Territory

All data cubes

Endnotes

Show all

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

Previous catalogue number

This release previously used catalogue number 4364.0.55.001.