The risk of developing hypertension increases with age, and in older age groups it is more common than not. Based on data from the Framingham study, the lifetime risk of hypertension is estimated to be 90 percent for people with normal blood pressure at ages 55 or 65 who live to be ages 80 to 85, respectively (Cutler et al., 2007; Vasan et al., 2002).

Hypertension is costly to the health care system. It is the most common primary diagnosis in America (Chobanian et al., 2003), and it contributes to the costs of cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction) and stroke. The American Heart Association (AHA) recently reported the direct and indirect costs of high blood pressure as a primary diagnosis as $73.4 billion for 2009 (Lloyd-Jones et al., 2009). With respect to the cost of treating hypertension, an analysis by DeVol and Bedroussian (2007) estimated that the total expenditure for the population reporting hypertension as a condition in the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey (MEPS) was $32.5 billion in 2003 (DeVol and Bedroussian, 2007). Another study estimated the total incremental annual direct expenditures for treating hypertension (the excess expenditure of treating patients with hypertension compared to patients without hypertension) to be about $55 billion in 2001 (Balu and Thomas, 2006).

Much is known about the health consequences and costs associated with hypertension (Chapters 1 and 2). Robust clinical and public health research efforts have developed safe and cost-effective nonpharmacological and pharmacological interventions (Chapters 4 and 5) to prevent, treat, and control hypertension. Nonetheless, millions of Americans continue to develop, live with, and die from hypertension because we are failing to translate our public health and clinical knowledge into effective prevention, treatment, and control programs. In the committee’s view this current state is one of neglect, defined by Merriam-Webster as “giving insufficient attention to something that merits attention.” The recommendations offered in this report outline a population-based policy and systems change approach to addressing hypertension that can be applied at the federal, state, and local level. It is time to give full attention and take concerted actions to prevent and control hypertension.


The CDC Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (DHDSP) provides national leadership to reduce the burden of disease, disability, and death from heart disease and stroke. The DHDSP is co-lead, along with the NHLBI, for the Healthy People 2010 objectives related to heart disease and stroke including four objectives specific to hypertension (Table S-1).

Findings from the Healthy People 2010 Midcourse Review (CDC, 2006) indicated that the nation was moving away from making progress in

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