BACKGROUND: In general, it is assumed that patient education, by increasing knowledge, may change behavior and lifestyle and promote health. In this context, it is a surprise that knowledge and awareness about blood pressure and hypertension among elderly people is poor. We hypothesized that knowledge about blood pressure and hypertension would be better among individuals with self-reported hypertension compared with subjects without self-reported hypertension.
METHODS: We mailed a questionnaire to a random sample of 1,000 subjects living in the municipality of Silkeborg, Denmark. The study sample was drawn from the Central Person Registry.
RESULTS: The response rate was 72%. Of these, 43% of responders had self-reported hypertension. The people with self-reported hypertension were older, less educated, had higher self-reported blood cholesterol levels, had higher body weight, and more often had a family history of hypertension. More than 80% reported that overweight and obesity increases blood pressure. More than 60% reported that untreated hypertension may cause heart disease or stroke. More than half of the responders did not know their blood pressure, and only 21% knew that hypertension can occur without symptoms. Knowledge about hypertension was independent of self-reported hypertension status, but awareness about blood pressure was most prominent among those with self-reported hypertension.
CONCLUSION: General knowledge about blood pressure and hypertension was reasonable, but there is still room for improvement in elderly people's knowledge and awareness of blood pressure.