Objectives: To seek regional differences within the USA in the 'all-cause mortality' of hypertensive men during the 14 years following institution of antihypertensive treatment, and to determine how other pretreatment data can be related to that all-cause mortality.
Design: In the mid-1970s pretreatment clinical data were collected and computerized for 5698 hypertensive veterans. Deaths during the subsequent 14 years were obtained from the Veterans Administration Beneficiary Identification and Record Location System and the National Death Index. Relationships between pretreatment data and death were sought using chi 2- and z-tests for bivariate comparisons and logistic regression for multivariate analyses.
Patients: Half of the 5698 previously untreated male hypertensive military veterans were Black. Their mean age was 52.3 years and mean pretreatment blood pressure was 160/104 mmHg. Additional pretreatment data included body mass index, cigarette and alcohol usage, age and self-reported comorbidities. These patients began antihypertensive treatment during 1974-1975 in 28 special Veterans Administration outpatient clinics throughout the USA.
Results: During the 14 years after treatment began, 2283 of these patients (40%) died. Those from the southeastern USA, i.e. in the 'Stroke Belt', were 1.32-fold more likely to die than patients living elsewhere. Other pretreatment characteristics positively related to all-cause mortality included age, systolic blood pressure, cigarette and alcohol usage, and self-reported comorbidities. Race was unrelated to mortality.
Conclusion: All-cause mortality was increased among hypertensive subjects from the southeastern USA. The reasons for this excess mortality remain unclear. Other pretreatment characteristics were also related to mortality, but race was not.