Nurses, hypertension and obesity. Not so bad?

The American Nurses Association (ANA)”Year of the Healthy Nurse” February Campaign offers some startling facts about the cardiovascular health of American nurses.

This information comes from the ANA’s 2015 Health Risk Assessment, a voluntary questionnaire about personal health that attracted 10,000 American nurses and nursing students.

  • 25% of nurses and nursing students have been diagnosed with hypertension by a doctor

  • the AVERAGE body mass index  (BMI) of nurses was 27.6 (overweight)

This doesn’t sound great.  Wow, nurses, you should know better and take care of yourselves, blah blah blah.  However, compare the ANA data with data from the CDC regarding the epidemiology of hypertension and obesity in the US:
Per the CDC:

  • 35% of women have high blood pressure (ages 45-54)
    • average age of nurses in 2008 was 47
    • 31% of white women have hypertension (nursing is about 80% white)
    • 45% of black women have hypertension
  • Average BMI for American women is 29

Hey nurses- Not so bad!  You are less likely to have high blood pressure  and your BMI is lower than the average American!
However, the message is- watch your weight, exercise, keep on doing what you do to stay healthy.

For more about the ANA’s Year of the Healthy Nurse




  1. Vic Crain

    In my experience, nurses are constantly in motion — the equivalent of a gym workout on the job. Do you track how many steps you take in a day at work? The offsetting factor is that nursing is (or can be) very stressful. These factors might explain why nurses are in better shape than the general population but still have issues.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. NurSerial

      Nurses which work in hospitals are really physically active, and nurses who do a lot of telephone nursing, like it MD offices, aren’t so active. I agree that the offsetting factor is stress, and I also wonder if it’s about the perceived power structure. Many clinic nurses feel that doctors are in the driver’s seat. That feeling of being out of control can lead to more stress. Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Vic!


  2. Susan

    I’m a perioperative nurse – on my feet all day, but the reality is, we are not running from room to room or surgery bay. I’m overweight – legs are damn toned for a 51 year — but still, the extra weight is a cardiovascular risk. I have to always remind myself that just being on my feet is not a “workout”.

    Liked by 1 person

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