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

Concerns of the Heart: Hypertension Continues to Threaten Local Health
Thursday. February 6, 2003

PHILADELPHIA, PA, February 2003 — Heart disease is the number one cause of death in America and is the leading cause of long-term disability. Fortunately the major risk factors for heart disease, such as tobacco use, lack of physical activity, and poor nutrition can be addressed with healthy lifestyles. Data from a recent survey, conducted by Philadelphia Health Management Corporation (PHMC), a local nonprofit, describe the prevalence and extent of these problems among adults ages 18+ in the region.

  • More than one-quarter of adults in the region (27.8%) have been told by a health professional that they have high blood pressure, representing 801,500 adults.
  • Greater than one-half of adults 60 years of age and older have high blood pressure (54.3%). This is nearly twice that of adults ages 40-59 (28%) and more than four times that of adults ages 18-39 (11.6%).
  • African American adults (38.3%) are more likely than white (26.2%), Latino (20.5%), and Asian (10.3%) adults to have high blood pressure.
  • More than one-third of adults who live below the federal poverty level have high blood pressure (38.8%). This percentage is much higher compared to nonpoor adults (26.5%).
  • One-third of adults (35.4%) who have high blood pressure report that their health is fair or poor compared to 13.2 percent of adults without high blood pressure.
  • Three-quarters of adults with high blood pressure are obese or overweight. This represents greater than half a million adults (595,300).

These selected findings are from PHMC’s 2002 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey, a major telephone survey of more than 10,000 households in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia.

PHMC is a nonprofit, public health organization committed to improving the health of the community through outreach, education, research, planning, technical assistance, and direct services. PHMC is a United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania member agency. Additional Household Health Survey findings are located online at