• hypertension;
  • rural population;
  • Australia;
  • prevention and control;
  • practice guidelines


Background:  Hypertension is an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease; however, limited findings are available on its detection and management in rural Australia.

Aim:  To assess the prevalence, awareness and treatment of hypertension in a rural South-East Australian population.

Methods:  Three cross-sectional surveys in Limestone Coast, Corangamite Shire and Wimmera regions during 2004–2006 using a random population sample (= 3320, participation rate 49%) aged 25–74 years. Blood pressure was measured by trained nurses. Information on history of hypertension and medication was obtained by questionnaires. Hypertension was defined as systolic blood pressure ≥140 mmHg and/or diastolic blood pressure ≥90 mmHg and/or on antihypertensive drug treatment.

Results:  Overall, one-third of participants had hypertension; of these, two-thirds, 54% (95% confidence interval (CI) 47–60) of men and 71% (95% CI 65–77) of women, were aware of their condition. Half of the participants with hypertension were treated and nearly half of these were controlled. Both treatment and control were more common in women (60%, 95% CI 54–67 and 55%, 95% CI 47–64) compared with men (42%, 95% CI 36–49 and 35%, 95% CI 26–44). Monotherapy was used by 55% (95% CI 48–61) of treated hypertensives. Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors were the most frequently used class of antihypertensive drugs in men, whereas angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors, angiotensin receptor antagonists and diuretics were all widely used among women.

Conclusion:  This study emphasizes suboptimal detection and treatment of hypertension, especially in men, in rural Australia.