Self-reported hypertension prevalence and income among older adults in Canada and the United States
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Hypertension is one of the most common chronic conditions worldwide. There is strong evidence that low socioeconomic status is associated with elevated rates of blood pressure-related cardiovascular disease. Few studies have examined the association between socioeconomic circumstances and hypertension among people aged 65 years and older. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between household income and self-reported hypertension prevalence among persons aged 65 and older in the United States and Canada. Data were obtained from the 2002-2003 Joint Canada/United States Survey of Health for 755 Canadian and 1151 US adults aged 65 and older. Aggregate hypertension prevalence rates in the United States and Canada were generally similar (53.8% versus 48.0%). We found a significant inverse linear relationship between household income and the hypertension prevalence rate in the United States, but no evidence of such a relationship in Canada. In Canada, unlike the United States, the burden of hypertension is approximately equal for socioeconomically advantaged and disadvantaged older adults. It is important to consider these findings in the context of long-term and broader institutional policies. Social disparities and barriers to health care access and primary prevention among non-elderly persons in the United States may play a role in the higher hypertension prevalence rate among low-income older adults.
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