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Community Health Data Base
An Information Service of the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation

More than Half of Region’s Seniors Have High Blood Pressure
Friday. February 4, 2005

PHILADELPHIA, PA, February 3, 2005 — High blood pressure that is not controlled can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure. A recent survey conducted by the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation (PHMC), a nonprofit public health agency, showed that more than one-half of adults 60 years of age and older have high blood pressure (54.5%).

The percentage of older adults with high blood pressure is nearly twice that of adults ages 40-59 (28.1%) and more than four times that of adults ages 18-39 (8%). In total, 787,300 adults in the region have high blood pressure. According to PHMC’s Household Health Survey, nearly nine out of ten (89.7%) residents with high blood pressure are currently doing something to control their hypertension. The major risk factors for heart disease, such as tobacco use, lack of physical activity, and poor nutrition can be addressed with healthy lifestyles.

Lifestyle changes can be difficult, however. For instance, fifteen percent of adults with high blood pressure smoke cigarettes everyday, representing 116,100 adults, and another 5% smoke some days. Among adults with high blood pressure who smoke, six out of ten (60.3%) adults have tried to quit smoking in the past year. Three-quarters of local adults with high blood pressure are overweight or obese, representing more than half a million adults (583,200). However, the majority do not get regular exercise. For instance, greater than six out of ten (66.6%) of adults with high blood pressure exercise less than three times per week or never.

Overall, one-third of adults (35.7%) in the region who have high blood pressure report that their health is fair or poor compared to 12.8 percent of adults without high blood pressure. Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America and is the leading cause of long-term disability. Records from the Pennsylvania Department of Health show that more than 8,000 people died of coronary heart disease in this region in 2004.

The 2004 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey was conducted by PHMC’s Community Health Data Base project in the summer of 2004, including more than 10,000 telephone interviews in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. The Community Health Data Base is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, The William Penn Foundation, The United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and a variety of participating agencies from the health, government, nonprofit, and academic sectors. PHMC is a non-profit, public health organization committed to improving the health of the community through outreach, education, research, planning, technical assistance, and direct services.