Blacks and Hispanics are less likely than whites to control their high blood pressure, according to a new study.

Researchers looked at data of 8,796 adults with high blood pressure in the 2003-12 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Participants were considered to have high blood pressure if their systolic (top number) blood pressure was 140 mg Hg or higher, their diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure was 90 mm Hg or higher, or they were taking high blood pressure medicine.

The seventh panel of the Joint National Committee defined high blood pressure control as below 140/90 mg Hg for those without chronic kidney disease or diabetes and below 130/80 mm Hg for those with either condition.

Researchers found that high blood pressure treatment rates were 73.9 percent for whites; 70.8 percent for blacks; and 60.7 percent for Hispanics. In addition, high blood pressure control rates were 42.9 percent for whites; 36.9 percent for blacks; and 31.2 percent for Hispanics.

According to the American Heart Association’s 2016 Heart and Stroke Statistics, 80 million U.S. adults, about one in three, have high blood pressure. That number is expected to increase by 8 percent from 2013 to 2030. High blood pressure is strongly linked to cardiovascular diseases like stroke, heart attack and heart failure.

“High blood pressure is very treatable, so from a public health perspective, it’s important to know if prevention and treatment strategies are working and what differences exist across racial and ethnic groups,” said Edgar Argulian, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of medicine and a cardiologist at Mt. Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital in New York.

Researchers found that lack of health insurance and younger age increases the gap in treatment and control between the two minority groups and whites. Blacks and Hispanics younger than age 60 without health insurance were more than 40 percent less likely than whites without insurance to achieve high blood pressure control.

“Expanded healthcare coverage would help minimize this problem, but there are multiple factors that contribute to this disparity,” said Sen “Anna” Gu, M.D., Ph.D., lead study author and assistant professor at St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences in New York. “We need better patient education, better physician-patient communication and support for patients making lifestyle changes like exercising more and eating healthy.”

Having insurance reduces, but does not eliminate the gap. Researchers said that closing the gap may require different approaches for blacks and Hispanics.

“It is an established fact that high blood pressure is more common among blacks and more aggressive,” Argulian said.

One positive study finding was that blacks received more intensive therapy, including two or more kinds of drugs, for high blood pressure than whites and Hispanics, Argulian said.

Hispanics were less likely to receive drugs and intensive therapy than whites or blacks, Gu said.

The percentage of all adults taking medications for their condition increased from 65.6 to 77.3 percent during the study, which was published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Editor’s Note: This story was written when high blood pressure was considered 140/90 or higher. New guidelines released in November 2017 changed the definition to 130/80.