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WHO: Nearly half of people with hypertension unaware

Nearly half of people with hypertension globally are currently unaware of their condition.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released its first-ever report on the devastating global impact of high blood pressure, along with recommendations on the ways to win the race against this silent killer.

The report shows approximately 4 out of every 5 people with hypertension are not adequately treated, but if countries can scale up coverage, 76 million deaths could be averted between 2023 and 2050.

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Hypertension affects 1 in 3 adults worldwide.  This common, deadly condition leads to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney damage and many other health problems.

The study shows that 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.

Unaware

Nearly half of 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 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 prioritized 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 the 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-prioritized 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.”

The report is being launched during the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly which addresses progress for the Sustainable Development Goals including health goals on pandemic preparedness and response, ending tuberculosis and attaining Universal Health Coverage.

An increase in the number of patients effectively treated for hypertension to levels observed in high-performing countries could prevent 76 million deaths, 120 million strokes, 79 million heart attacks, and 17 million cases of heart failure between now and 2050.

“Most heart attacks and strokes in the world today can be prevented with affordable, safe, accessible medicines and other interventions, such as sodium reduction,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries. “Treating hypertension through primary health care will save lives, while also saving billions of dollars a year.”

WHO says hypertension can easily be treated with safe, widely available, low-cost generic medications.

 

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