World Health Organisation (WHO) has released its first-ever report on the devastating impact of high blood pressure, alongside ways to win the fight against the silent killer.
The report shows that approximately four out of every five people with hypertension are not adequately treated, and that if countries can scale up coverage, 76 million deaths could be averted between 2023 and 2050.
Hypertension affects one in three adults worldwide. This common deadly condition leads to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney damage and other health problems.
The number of people living with hypertension (blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher or taking medication for hypertension) doubled between 1990 and 2019, from 650 million to 1.3 billion. Nearly half of the people with hypertension globally are currently unaware of their condition.
More than three-quarters of adults with hypertension live in low- and middle-income countries.
Older age and genetics can increase the risk of having high blood pressure, but modifiable risk factors such as eating a high-salt diet, not being physically active and drinking too much alcohol can also increase the risk of hypertension.
Lifestyle changes like eating a healthier diet, quitting tobacco and being more active can help lower blood pressure. Some people may need medicines that can control hypertension effectively and prevent related complications.
The prevention, early detection and effective management of hypertension are among the most cost-effective interventions in health care and should be prioritised by countries as part of their national health benefit package offered at a primary care level. The economic benefits of improved hypertension treatment programmes outweigh costs by about 18 to 1.
“Hypertension can be controlled effectively with simple, low-cost medication regimens, and yet only about one in five people with hypertension have controlled it,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General.
“Hypertension control programmes remain neglected, under-prioritised and vastly underfunded. Strengthening hypertension control must be part of every country’s journey towards universal health coverage, based on well-functioning, equitable and resilient health systems, built on a foundation of primary health care,” he added.
The report was launched during the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly which addresses progress for the Sustainable Development Goals.