High Blood Pressure: 15 States With the Highest Hypertension Rates

High blood pressure is a killer. More than 1,100 people die every day from the condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and treating it costs $48.6 billion every year in doctor’s visits, medications, and days of missed work.

High blood pressure — also known as hypertension — is a nationwide problem, but it’s more common in some parts of the country than in others. Roughly 30% of high blood pressure cases are linked to obesity, so it’s no surprise that the states with the highest hypertension rates mirror those with the highest rates of obesity.

People living in these states are also less likely to be physically active and tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables than those in states with lower hypertension rates, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s 2017 State of Obesity report. Not getting enough exercise and a diet that’s low in fresh foods and high in sodium and saturated fat are also risk factors for high blood pressure, according to the American Heart Association.

Overall, 1 out of 3 American adults suffers from high blood pressure. But in certain areas, especially the South, the rate is even higher. These are the 15 U.S. states with the highest hypertension rates.

14. Missouri (tie)

The Indian Scout is known as a Kansas City landmark

A quarter of adults in Missouri don’t exercise. | iStock.com/tomofbluesprings

  • Share of population with high blood pressure: 34.1%
  • Percent of adults who are obese: 31.7%

Not getting enough exercise is one risk factor for high blood pressure. One quarter of Missouri adults are physically inactive, meaning they didn’t engage in any physical activity or exercise in the past 30 days, other than what is required for their jobs.

Many people in Missouri aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables either. Forty-four percent of adults ate fruit less than once per day, and 25% were eating vegetables less than once per day, according to 2011 data. Nationwide, 37.7% of American adults eat fruit less than once per day; 22.6% eat vegetables less than once daily.

14. Maine (tie)

ocean in Maine

People are less obese in Maine but still have high blood pressure. | Thinkstock

  • Share of population with high blood pressure: 34.1%
  • Percent of adults who are obese: 29.9%

Maine has a smaller share of obese adults than any other state on this list, but more than one-third of adults in the state still have high blood pressure. The state also does better than most others on measures of physical activity, though 21% of adults are still not getting any exercise. The state also had one of the lowest shares of people who ate hardly any fruits and vegetables.

13. Ohio

Ohio

Most adults eat less than one serving of vegetables per day. | Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

  • Share of population with high blood pressure: 34.3%
  • Percent of adults who are obese: 31.5%

More than a third of Ohio adults have hypertension, and 31.5% are obese. It also ranks 14th in the number of children ages 10 to 17 who are obese, at 17.4%. More than a quarter of adults are physically inactive, and 26% eat less than one serving of vegetables per day.

12. Delaware

Delaware

Over 30% of adults are obese. | Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images

  • Share of population with high blood pressure: 34.5%
  • Percent of adults who are obese: 30.7%

Just over 30% of Delaware adults are obese, and 68% are either obese or overweight, the 13th-highest rate in the country. Nearly 27% of adults don’t get any exercise, and 24% eat vegetables less than once per day.

11. North Carolina

Winston-Salem, NC, USA

Just over 23% are physically active. | iStock.com/Bryan Pollard

  • Share of population with high blood pressure: 35.2%
  • Percent of adults who are obese: 31.8%

North Carolina ranks 15th for obesity and 11th for the share of adults with high blood pressure. Forty-one percent of adults eat fruit less than once a day, and 22% eat vegetables less than once daily. Just over 23% are physically inactive.

9. Georgia (tie)

Elbaroda Hideaway

All that sweet tea has an effect on waistlines. | Tybee Vacation Rentals

  • Share of population with high blood pressure: 36.2%
  • Percent of adults who are obese: 31.4%

Georgia is in the middle of the pack when it comes to the share of adults statewide who are obese or overweight. But compared to most other states, it has high rates of diabetes, physical inactivity, and high blood pressure.

Roughly 16% of Georgia households also don’t have access to adequate food and nutrition, a condition known as food insecurity. These families have fewer affordable and healthy food options available to them, so they’re actually at increased risk of obesity because they’re more likely to choose high-calorie, low-nutrition foods. This kind of diet puts them at higher risk obesity and hypertension.

9. Oklahoma (tie)

oklahoma city

Over 35% of the population has high blood pressure. | Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

  • Share of population with high blood pressure: 36.2%
  • Percent of adults who are obese: 32.8%

Oklahoma ranks ninth in the country for both share of adults who are obese and those who have hypertension. It also has a high share of people with diabetes (12%) and who are physically inactive (28.5%). Half of adults eat fruit less than once a day, and 27% eat vegetables less than once daily.

8. South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina, USA

Close to one-third of residents are obese. | iStock.com/Sean Pavone

  • Share of population with high blood pressure: 37.8%
  • Percent of adults who are obese: 32.3%

Nearly 38% of South Carolinians have high blood pressure and close to one-third are obese. People in this state also come up short in terms of fruit and vegetable consumption. More than 44% eat fruit less than once a day, and 27.3% eat veggies less than once daily.

7. Tennessee

downtown Nashville, Tennessee

A huge percentage of the population is overweight. | iStock.com/Sean Pavone

  • Share of population with high blood pressure: 38.5%
  • Percent of adults who are obese: 34.8%

Overall, more than two-thirds of adults in Tennessee are either overweight or obese, and more than 38.5% have high blood pressure. Twenty-eight percent are physically inactive, and one-quarter eat vegetables less than once per day.

6. Kentucky

Dusk in Lexington, Kentucky

It has one of the highest rates of inactivity in adults. | iStock.com/benkrut

  • Share of population with high blood pressure: 39%
  • Percent of adults who are obese: 34.2%

Kentucky has one of the highest rates of physically inactive adults in the country at 29.8%. More than a third of people are obese, and another 34.9% are overweight. A quarter of adults eat vegetables less than once per day. With those numbers, perhaps it’s no surprise that the blood pressure rate in the Bluegrass State is 39%.

4. Louisiana (tie)

New Orleans, LA, USA

Over 39% have high blood pressure. | iStock.com/Sean Pavone

  • Share of population with high blood pressure: 39.3%
  • Percent of adults who are obese: 35.5%

Louisiana has high rates of obesity, physical inactivity, and hypertension. Just over 39% of adults have high blood pressure, compared to 23.6% in Utah, the state with the lowest rate. Close to one-third of Louisiana adults eat vegetables less than once per day, the highest share in the country.

4. Arkansas (tie)

Little Rock, AR, USA

Arkansas has the highest percentage of inactive adults in the country. | iStock.com/csfotoimages

  • Share of population with high blood pressure: 39.3%
  • Percent of adults who are obese: 35.7%

At 32.5%, Arkansas has the highest share of physically inactive adults of any state in the country. The lack of exercise is likely related to high share of adults with high blood pressure. Arkansas also has the third-highest obesity rate in the United States.

3. Alabama

scene of downtown Huntsville, Alabama

14.6% of adults have diabetes. | iStock

  • Share of population with high blood pressure: 40.4%
  • Percent of adults who are obese: 35.7%

More than 40% of Alabama adults have high blood pressure, and 14.6% have diabetes. Just over 29% are physically inactive, and 44% eat fruit less than once per day. Twenty-four percent eat vegetables less than once daily.

2. Mississippi

Welcome to Mississippi sign

Mississippi has the highest rate of childhood obesity. | iStock.com/Meinzahn

  • Share of population with high blood pressure: 42.4%
  • Percent of adults who are obese: 37.3%

In addition to having some of the highest rates of adult hypertension and obesity in the country, Mississippi also has this highest rate of obese children at 21.7%. More than 21% of households are food insecure. The state also has the highest poverty rate in the U.S. Nearly 51% of adults eat fruit less than once per day, and 32.3% eat vegetables less than once daily.

1. West Virginia

Sunset at the New River Gorge Bridge in West Virginia

Close to 43% of adults in West Virginia have high blood pressure. | iStock.com/BackyardProduction

  • Share of population with high blood pressure: 42.7%
  • Percent of adults who are obese: 37.7%

Nearly 43% of adults in West Virginia have high blood pressure, the highest share in the country. The state also has the highest obesity rate in the U.S. Seventy-one percent of adults are either overweight or obese, the second-highest rate in the nation. Forty-seven percent of adults eat fruit less than once per day, and 26.2% eat vegetables less than once a day.