BACKGROUND: We were interested in determining the rates of hypertension awareness, treatment, and control in individuals living in the southeastern United States and evaluating the impact of lifestyle behaviors on these rates. METHODS: This is a cross-sectional survey of a sample of community dwellers in the greater Columbia, South Carolina area. The survey was developed from validated community-based survey questionnaires to evaluate demographic and social history (age, gender, race-ethnicity, income, and education), hypertension history (diagnosis and treatment), and lifestyle behavior (servings of fruits and vegetables [FV] and physical activity [PA] duration and frequency), as well as blood pressure measurement. RESULTS: A total of 763 people (mean ± standard error age 52.4 ± 0.7 years; 68% women, 53% African American) agreed to be screened. Of all participants with hypertension (438 [58%]), 82% were aware of their illness and 79% were on treatment. Of all hypertensive participants, 39% had their hypertension controlled below 140/90 mm Hg at the time of the survey. Only 11% reported consuming five or more FV per day and 18% reported PA five or more times per week. African-Americans consumed less FV (P < 0.001) and performed less PA (P < 0.001). Those consuming more FV and exercising more frequently had lower hypertension prevalence and tended to have better control rates. CONCLUSIONS: In a sample of southeastern residents, the control rate was suboptimal despite a relatively high rate of treatment. Low levels of FV consumption and PA were noted especially in African-American patients and may explain this rate.
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