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Hospitalizations for increases in blood pressure increase

By Robert Preidt
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, 10 Nov. 2021 (HealthDay News) – Despite a nationwide effort to control blood pressure, the number of seniors admitted to the hospital for a sudden, sharp rise in blood pressure over the past two decades in the United States.

The largest increase was among Black Americans, with the highest rates in the South, new research shows.

The aim of the study was to “evaluate whether we have made any progress in the last 20 years on the prevention of hospitalization for acute hypertension. And the answer is no, “said lead author Yuan Lu, who is an assistant professor of cardiovascular medicine at Yale University’s Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation (CORE).

Analysis of data on Medicare beneficiaries over the age of 65 found that hospitalizations for these serious jumps in blood pressure more than doubled between 1999 and 2019.

The overall annual hospitalization rate for high blood pressure emergencies increased by 5.6% during that time, but increased by 6% among Black people. Black patients also had a three-fold higher rate of hospitalization between 2017 and 2019, according to the study.

“In this paper, we looked at hospitalizations for acute hypertension, including hypertension emergency and urgency. These marked increases in blood pressure require immediate attention and interventions, otherwise they can lead to target organ damage, including heart attack and stroke, “Lu said in a university news release.

The finding that the hospitalization rate for blood pressure peaks is highest in the South is consistent with what is called a “stroke belt” in the medical literature, she said.

“What is most striking is the rapid increase in racial differences of hospitalization for acute hypertension between black and white beneficiaries, with black people having consistently had higher rates over the past 20 years,” study co-author Dr. Harlan Krumholz said in the release.

“This was happening at a time when there was a huge increase in healthcare spending and important national efforts to eliminate inequalities,” added Krumholz, a professor of medicine and director of CORE.

“The lack of progress in reducing racial inequalities in hospitalizations for acute hypertension underscores the need for new approaches to addressing both medical and non-medical factors contributing to such inequalities,” he said.

Blood pressure is considered increased if you have consistent systolic readings of 130 mm Hg or higher or diastolic readings of 80 mm Hg or higher, according to the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

The findings were published in the journal on November 8. Circulation.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has more on high blood pressure.

SOURCE: Yale University, news release, November 8, 2021

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