State health officials hope a new ZIP code-level analysis of hypertension diagnoses in Minnesota will help communities and individuals take the condition more seriously and help prevent heart attacks and strokes.
High blood pressure is a problem statewide: As many as three in 10 Minnesotans have had the condition diagnosed, and many more have it without knowing it.
But the first-of-its-kind geographic analysis by the Minnesota Department of Health found pockets of the state where it was more of a problem.
The prevalence of hypertension is twice as high in north Minneapolis as in Edina, even though the communities are just 10 miles apart, said Jim Peacock, a researcher in the department’s cardiovascular health unit.
While that might not be surprising, given the economic differences between the two communities and the fact that wealthier people can afford better food and exercise, there were other patterns that state officials didn’t anticipate.
In the Cambridge ZIP code, 41% of adults ages 45 to 64 had hypertension diagnoses, compared to 34% for that age group statewide.
Peacock said that’s a particularly important age group to monitor because middle-age adults are less likely than older adults to take hypertension seriously and to follow treatment guidelines. Ignoring hypertension increases the risk of problems eventually.
“You have many more years of pressure on your organs,” he said. “That puts you at advanced risk of heart attack or stroke or developing kidney disease.”
The analysis was based on 2014 insurance claims collected in the Minnesota All Payer Claims Database. While the data is a few years old, Peacock said hypertension is a “slow moving” condition and that the numbers haven’t changed.
Other surprises included the consistently high hypertension rates in northeastern Minnesota, regardless of insurance type. Typically, lower-income residents covered by Medicaid have higher rates.
Hypertension rates for young adults ages 18 to 44 were 7.9% statewide but 22% in the Lake Mille Lacs community of Garrison and the tribal community of Nett Lake.