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Huge disparity in BP treatment between income groups in US but not UK

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There is a significant disparity between socioeconomic groups in the treatment of hypertension in the US but not in the UK, suggests a new study commissioned to look at the effect of universal health coverage on outcomes.

The comparison – carried out by researchers at the University of Oxford – found that the unadjusted prevalence of hypertension in the US and the UK was 45.1% and 38.2%, respectively, for individuals aged 50 to 64 years old. For those 65 years and older, the unadjusted prevalence was 63.6% and 52.9% respectively.

There was no significant difference in BP control to a treatment target of 140/90 mm Hg between the two countries.

But the researchers found individuals with higher socioeconomic status in the US were more likely to achieve their treatment targets than poorer patients – an effect not seen the in the UK.

However, Americans with higher socioeconomic status - based on years of education, income, and wealth - had slightly better control of their blood pressure than their UK counterparts.

The authors concluded: ‘For patients with high blood pressure, the English universal healthcare model provides a similar quality of care to the US market-based system but does so much more equitably across the population.’

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