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Non-Clinical Medicine - Obstetrics - Public Health and Epidemiology - Women's Health

Hypertension in Women of Reproductive Age in the United States: NHANES 1999-2008
Published: Monday, April 30, 2012
Author: Brian T. Bateman et al.

by Brian T. Bateman, Kate M. Shaw, Elena V. Kuklina, William M. Callaghan, Ellen W. Seely, Sonia Hernández-Díaz


To examine the epidemiology of hypertension in women of reproductive age.


Using NHANES from 1999–2008, we identified 5,521 women age 20–44 years old. Hypertension status was determined using blood pressure measurements and/or self-reported medication use.


The estimated prevalence of hypertension in women of reproductive age was 7.7% (95% confidence interval (CI): 6.9%–8.5%). The prevalence of anti-hypertensive pharmacologic therapy was 4.2% (95% CI 3.5%–4.9%). The prevalence of hypertension was relatively stable across the study period; the age and race adjusted odds of hypertension in 2007–2008 did not differ significantly from 1999–2000 (odds ratio 1.2, CI 0.8 to 1.7, p?=?0.45). Significant independent risk factors associated with hypertension included older age, non-Hispanic black race (compared to non-Hispanic whites), diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, and higher body mass index. The most commonly used antihypertensive medications included diuretics, angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE), and beta blockers.


Hypertension occurs in about 8% of women of reproductive age. There are remarkable differences in the prevalence of hypertension between racial/ethnic groups. Obesity is a risk factor of particular importance in this population because it affects over 30% of young women in the U.S., is associated with more than 4 fold increased risk of hypertension, and is potentially modifiable.