20% of people in Japan likely have high blood pressure

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A person’s blood pressure is measured by a doctor in Yokohama.

High blood pressure could be affecting 2 out of every 10 people in Japan, according to a survey by the Japanese Society of Hypertension’s research team.

The survey was based on a national database of medical fee receipts for 2014, so people who did not seek medical care are not included. According to the data, about 27,009,000 patients nationwide visited medical institutions for high blood pressure and nearly 90% of these people received medication for hypertension. The incidence tended to increase with age, as 66% of people at 80 or older suffered hypertension.

The rates per 100,000 people are highest in the Tohoku region and neighboring prefectures of northern Kanto.

“There is the probability that the high incidence of patients in the Tohoku and other such regions comes from the high salt intake,” said JSH board member Katsuyuki Miura, who is a professor of public health at Shiga University of Medical Science and helped to compile the survey.

The research team said areas with high salt intake are also places with high cerebral stroke mortality rates.

By prefecture, Tochigi had the highest number of female hypertension patients per 100,000 population at 24,625, while Kyoto had the lowest at 20,254. The highest rate for men was in Fukushima at 24,504, and the lowest was Kanagawa at 19,833.

In addition, 59% of the patients visited clinics rather than major hospitals.

“Primary care doctors play major roles in their communities,” Miura said. “Measures that are tailored to local conditions are necessary, such as a review of dietary habits.”