CAM use among older adults age 65 or older with hypertension in the United States: general use and disease treatment

Ronny A Bell, Cynthia K Suerken, Joseph G Grzywacz, Wei Lang, Sara A Quandt, Thomas A Arcury
Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: Research on Paradigm, Practice, and Policy 2006, 12 (9): 903-9

OBJECTIVES: Hypertension (HT) is a common condition among older adults that greatly increases morbidity and mortality risk. Although a number of antihypertensive therapies are currently available, adherence and control are low. The purpose of this study was to assess the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) among older adults with HT.

DESIGN: Using a nationally representative cross-sectional survey, the authors examined the prevalence of CAM use among older adults with and without diagnosed HT and the degree to which CAM is used specifically for HT treatment.

SUBJECTS: Subjects were 5821 adults age > or = 65 who participated in the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), including the Alternative Health supplement.

OUTCOME MEASURES: HT status was assessed by self-report. CAM use was classified as any CAM use, use of four CAM modalities, and specific CAM therapies.

RESULTS: Any CAM use was higher for persons with HT compared to those without diagnosed HT (69.5% versus 65.6%). Only 7.8% of CAM users reported using CAM to treat HT. Homeopathic treatment (16.7%), healing ritual (14.5%), and diet-based therapies (13.0%) were the most common HT therapies. Frequency of use of specific types of CAM therapies did not differ by HT status other than for biologically based therapies, which were used less often by those with HT.

CONCLUSIONS: CAM use is high among older adults with HT, but the vast majority of CAM is used for treating or preventing other conditions. Healthcare providers treating patients with HT should be aware of CAM among their patients.

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