10 facts you don’t know about high blood pressure & hypertension in Tennessee

Doctor measuring patient's blood pressure, cropped view

Nearly half of adults in the U.S. have hypertension.

Nearly 40% of Tennesseans have been told they have hypertension.

Yet only 1 in 4 adults has their hypertension under control.

Those numbers aren’t ideal, says Dr. Ian Bushell, family medicine physician and medical director for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. And the only way to improve them is to know the facts.

“High blood pressure affects everyone from athletes to people with obesity alike,” says Dr. Bushell. “It’s one of the most common ways to wear out your body prematurely. You don’t drive your car at full speed all the time, and the same logic applies to your blood pressure. If your hope is to live a long life, get your blood pressure checked regularly and make smart, simple changes to improve your heart health.”

10 key facts about high blood pressure

1. You can develop hypertension at any age.

About 1 in 4 males and 1 in 5 females ages 35-44 have hypertension.

2. Stress alone doesn’t cause high blood pressure. 

While stress can increase your blood pressure temporarily, it doesn’t cause long-term hypertension. Stress-related behaviors, however, do and may include drinking alcohol, lack of sleep, overeating and neglecting to take medications.

6 common myths about high blood pressure

3. Hypertension often has no symptoms.

Hypertension is often called “the silent killer” because measuring blood pressure is the only way to know for sure if there’s a problem.

4. More males have high blood pressure than females.

50% of males have high blood pressure while only 44% of females do.

High blood pressure is also more common in Black adults (56%) than in white adults (48%), Asian adults (46%) or Hispanic adults (39%).

5. Tennessee ranks 7th for states with the highest rates of hypertension.

39.3% of adults in Tennessee have hypertension.

Map of Hypertension prevalence across the U.S.Image credit: CDC

6. At least 3.5% of kids and teens have high blood pressure. 

A child’s blood pressure should be checked every year starting at age 3.

7. Hypertension puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke.

Both are leading causes of death in Tennessee and the U.S. More than half a million deaths in the U.S. have hypertension as a primary or contributing cause.

8. Hypertension can lead to vision loss. 

People often discover they have high blood pressure only because they start having trouble with their eyesight. Hypertension can also cause problems with your kidneys, toes, skin and sexual performance.

9. Tennessee seniors are likely to be affected by hypertension. 

Adults age 65+ are at increased risk of high blood pressure. This is a contributing factor to heart disease—Tennessee’s #1 cause of death.

10. Adults need a blood pressure check at least every 2 years.

If you get annual physicals, it will be part of that starting at age 18. Many primary care providers and specialists will also check your blood pressure on every visit.

Read next:

Blood pressure 101: understanding the numbers, risks & how to improve yours

Ashley Brantley

Ashley Brantley has been writing about food, culture and health for more than a decade, and has lived in three of Tennessee’s four major cities (Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville).

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Get more information about specific health terms, topics and conditions to better manage your health on bcbst.com. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also find tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the Managing Your Health tab.

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Ashley Brantley has been writing about food, culture and health for more than a decade, and has lived in three of Tennessee’s four major cities (Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville).