Hypertension in a population of active duty service members

J Am Board Fam Med. 2008 Nov-Dec;21(6):504-11. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2008.06.070182.


Background: Hypertension is a common condition, but little is known about its prevalence in the Armed Forces. Our purpose was to provide an estimate of the prevalence of hypertension in a large population of US service members.

Methods: We reviewed the screening records for service members who completed health risk assessments at Fort Lewis in Tacoma, WA, in 2004. The prevalence of hypertension and prehypertension were estimated from single recorded blood pressure readings and subjects' reported use of blood pressure medications. Study subject characteristics associated with hypertension and prehypertension were examined by chi(2) tests and multivariate logistic regression.

Results: Thirteen percent of the 15,391 subjects met the study definition for hypertension; 62% met the study definition for prehypertension. Increasing age and body mass index, male sex, black race/ethnicity, and senior rank were associated with hypertension; only body mass index, male sex, and senior rank were associated with prehypertension.

Conclusion: Hypertension and prehypertension are more prevalent in the US Armed Forces than has been previously reported, and prehypertension may be more common in the US Armed forces than in the general population. The high prevalence of prehypertension found in this young, fit population suggests a need to better define the risks and benefits associated with the diagnosis and treatment of prehypertension in low-risk populations.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / diagnosis*
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Military Medicine
  • Military Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult