Stroke mortality is higher in the Southeast compared with other regions of the United States. The prevalence of hypertension is also higher (black men = 35%, black women = 37.7%, white men = 26.5%, white women = 21.5%), and the proportion of patients whose hypertension is being controlled is poor, especially in white and black men.
The prevalence of hypertension-related complications other than stroke is also higher in the Southeast. The five states with the highest death rates for congestive heart failure are all in the southern region. Of the 15 states with the highest rates of end-stage renal disease, 10 are in the Southeast.
Obesity is very prevalent (24% to 28%) in the Southeast. Although Michigan tops the ranking for all states, 6 of the top 15 states are in the Southeast, as are 7 of the 10 states with the highest reported prevalence regarding no leisure-time physical activity. Similar to other areas of the United States, dietary sodium and saturated fat intake are high in the Southeast; dietary potassium intake appears to be relatively low.
Other factors that may be associated with the high prevalence, poor control, and excess morbidity and mortality of hypertension-related complications in the Southeast include misperceptions of the seriousness of the problem, the severity of the hypertension, lack of adequate follow-up, reduced access to health care, the cost of treatment, and possibly, low birth weights.
The Consortium of Southeastern Hypertension Control (COSEHC) is a nonprofit organization created in 1992 in response to a compelling need to improve the disproportionate hypertension-related morbidity and mortality throughout this region. The purpose of this position paper is to summarize the data that document the problem, the consequences, and possible causative factors.