Untreated hypertension among Australian adults: the 1999–2000 Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab)

Esther M Briganti, John J McNeil, Jonathan E Shaw, Paul Z Zimmet, Steven J Chadban, Robert C Atkins and Timothy A Welborn
Med J Aust 2003; 179 (3): 135-139.


Objective: To measure the prevalence of untreated hypertension in Australian adults, and examine the associations with clinical and lifestyle factors.

Design: AusDiab, a cross-sectional survey conducted between May 1999 and December 2000, involved participants from 42 randomly selected census districts throughout Australia.

Participants: Of 20 347 eligible people aged ≥ 25 years who completed a household interview, 11 247 attended a physical examination (response rate, 55%).

Main outcome measures: The prevalence of hypertension (blood pressure ≥ 140/90 mmHg or self-reported use of antihypertensive drugs) and its treatment; associations of clinical and lifestyle factors with the treatment of hypertension; and adequacy of treatment for primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Results: The prevalence of hypertension was 28.6 per 100 (95% CI, 25.0–32.3), and the prevalence of untreated hypertension was 15.2 per 100 (95% CI, 13.2–17.2). Of those with untreated hypertension, 80.8% (95% CI, 74.7%–85.0%) had had a blood pressure check within the preceding 12 months. At least one modifiable lifestyle factor was present in 71.7% (95% CI, 68.5%–74.8%) of participants with untreated hypertension. Although lower risk clinical characteristics of younger age and lack of hyperlipidaemia were independently associated with untreated hypertension, 53.5% warranted treatment based on current cardiovascular disease prevention guidelines and multivariable absolute risk assessment.

Conclusions: Considerable scope remains for reducing the burden of cardiovascular disease through lifestyle modification and rational treatment of hypertension.

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  • Esther M Briganti1
  • John J McNeil2
  • Jonathan E Shaw3
  • Paul Z Zimmet4
  • Steven J Chadban5
  • Robert C Atkins6
  • Timothy A Welborn7

  • 1 Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 2 International Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 3 Department of Nephrology, Monash Medical Centre, Melbourne, VIC.
  • 4 Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth, WA.



We are grateful for the support of the then Australian Department of Health and Aged Care, Abbott Australasia, Alphapharm, Aventis Pharma, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceuticals, Eli Lilly (Aust), GlaxoSmithKline Australia, Janssen-Cilag, Merck Lipha, Merck Sharp & Dohme (Aust), Novartis Pharmaceutical Australia, Novo Nordisk Pharmaceuticals, Pharmacia and Upjohn, Pfizer, Roche Diagnostics Australia, Sanofi-Synthelabo Australia, Servier Laboratories (Aust), BioRad Laboratories, HITECH Pathology, the Australian Kidney Foundation, Diabetes Australia, Diabetes Australia (Northern Territory), Queensland Health, South Australian Department of Human Services, Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services, Territory Health Services, Victorian Department of Human Services and Health Department of Western Australia. Also, for their invaluable contribution to the field activities of AusDiab, we are grateful to Annie Allman, Marita Dalton, Adam Meehan, Claire Reid, Alison Stewart, Robyn Tapp and Fay Wilson.

Competing interests:

None identified. The funding companies were not involved in the study design, data collection, analysis or interpretation, or writing of the article. The companies had no control or influence over the decision to submit the final manuscript for publication.

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