Who's Likely To Develop High Blood Pressure?


Anyone can develop high blood pressure, but some people are more likely to develop it than others.  For example, high blood pressure is more common – it develops earlier and is more severe – in African-Americans than in whites.

In the early and middle adult years, men have high blood pressure more often than women.  But as men and women age, the reverse is true.  More women after menopause have high blood pressure than men of the same age.  And the number of both men and women with high blood pressure increases rapidly in older age groups.  More than half of all Americans over age 65 have high blood pressure.  And older African-American women who live in the Southeast are more likely to have high blood pressure than those in other regions of the United States.

In fact, the southeastern states have some of the highest rates of death from stroke.  High blood pressure is the key risk factor for stroke.  Other risk factors include cigarette smoking and overweight.  These 11 states – Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia – have such high rates of stroke among persons of all races and in both sexes that they are called the “Stroke Belt States.”

Finally, heredity can make some families more likely than others to get high blood pressure.  If your parents or grandparents had high blood pressure, your risk may be increased.  While it is mainly a disease of adults, high blood pressure can occur in children as well.  Even if everyone is healthy, be sure you and your family get your blood pressure checked.  Remember, high blood pressure has no signs or symptoms.