Prevalence and inequality in persistent undiagnosed, untreated, and uncontrolled hypertension: Evidence from a cohort of older Mexicans

CM (Charlotte) Dieteren*, Owen O'Donnell, Igna Bonfrer

*Corresponding author for this work

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Hypertension is the leading risk factor for cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) and substantial gaps in diagnosis, treatment and control signal failure to avert premature deaths. Our aim was to estimate the prevalence and assess the socioeconomic distribution of hypertension that remained undiagnosed, untreated, and uncontrolled for at least five years among older Mexicans and to estimate rates of transition from those states to diagnosis, treatment and control. We used data from a cohort of Mexicans aged 50+ in two waves of the WHO Study on Global AGEing and adult health (SAGE) collected in 2009 and 2014. Blood pressure was measured, hypertension diagnosis and treatment self-reported. We estimated prevalence and transition rates over five years and calculated concentration indices to identify socioeconomic inequalities using a wealth index. Using probit models, we identify characteristics of those facing the greatest barriers in receiving hypertension care. More than 60 percent of individuals with full item response (N = 945) were classified as hypertensive. Over one third of those undiagnosed continued to be in that state five years later. More than two fifths of those initially untreated remained so, and over three fifths of those initially uncontrolled failed to achieve continued blood pressure control. While being classified as hypertensive was more concentrated among the rich, missing diagnosis, treatment and control were more prevalent among the poor. Men, singles, rural dwellers, uninsured, and those with overweight were more likely to have persistent undiagnosed, untreated, and uncontrolled hypertension. There is room for improvement in both hypertension diagnosis and treatment in Mexico. Clinical and public health attention is required, even for those who initially had their hypertension controlled. To ensure more equitable hypertension care and effectively prevent premature deaths, increased diagnosis and long-term treatment efforts should especially be directed towards men, singles, uninsured, and those with overweight.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalPLOS Global Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2021


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