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Global Hypertension Rates Have Doubled Over 40 Years

By Daniel Beris
Posted on 29 Nov 2016
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Image: The proportion of men with high blood pressure worldwide (blue is lower) (Photo courtesy of ICL).
Image: The proportion of men with high blood pressure worldwide (blue is lower) (Photo courtesy of ICL).
A new study that examined blood pressure in every country in the world between 1975 and 2015 found that the number of people with hypertension has reached 1.13 billion.

Researchers at Imperial College London (ICL; United Kingdom), the World Health Organization (WHO; Geneva, Switzerland), and hundreds of other institutions worldwide pooled population-based studies that measured BP in adults aged 18 years and older. They then estimated trends in mean systolic and mean diastolic BP over the study period and the prevalence of elevated BP for 200 countries, taking into account changes in prevalence, population growth, and ageing on the number of adults with raised BP.

The results showed that while BP has dropped sharply in high-income countries, it has risen in many low and middle-income countries, especially those in Africa and South Asia. The United Kingdom was found to be the European country with the lowest proportion of people with high BP in 2015, while South Korea, the USA, and Canada were lowest in the world. Over half of the world’s adults with high BP in 2015 lived in Asia, with around 226 million people in China and 200 million in India.

Other findings were that the top five countries with the highest proportion of men with high BP in 2015 were all in Central and Eastern Europe: Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, and Slovenia; nearly two in five men in these countries had high BP. The top five countries with the highest proportion of women with high BP in 2015 were all in Africa: Niger, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Somalia; around one in three women in these countries had high BP. The study was published on November 15, 2016, in The Lancet.

“We need economic means and regulation to improve access to high quality food, especially fruits and vegetables, and reduce excessive salt in food. We also need a stronger healthcare system, to identify people with high blood pressure earlier, and improve access to treatment and medication,” said senior author Professor Majid Ezzati, PhD, of the ICL school of public health. “Without these measures, the world is unlikely to achieve the World Health Organization’s target of reducing the proportion of people with high blood pressure by 25% by 2025.”

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World Health Organization
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