Half of all people living with hypertension treated

By Melissa Coade

Monday August 30, 2021

the number of people aged 30-79 living with hypertension worldwide has grown to 1.2 billion people in 30 years.
The number of people aged 30-79 living with hypertension worldwide has grown to 1.2 billion people in 30 years. (Andrei Tsalko/Adobe)

An international study has found that the number of adults living with hypertension around the world has doubled in the last 30 years, and only approximately half of those people are receiving treatment for the condition.

New research from Australia has outlined how the number of people aged 30-79 living with hypertension worldwide has grown to 1.2 billion people in 30 years. But the study has also found that over three decades, some regions comprising high-income nations saw an ‘substantial increase’ in rates of hypertension, while others with low and middle-income nations saw ‘substantial decreases’ in prevalence.

Hypertension was defined as having systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or greater, diastolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or greater, or taking medication for high blood pressure.

Senior study author, Professor Majid Ezzati from the UK’s Imperial College London, said that global progress in hypertension management has been slow, with nations such as Paraguay, Hungary, Poland and Croatia among some of the worst performing. Wealthier countries like Canada, Switzerland, and the UK however have reported all-time low prevalence rates of hypertension. 

“Our analysis has revealed good practice in diagnosing and treating hypertension not just in high-income countries but also in middle-income countries,” Ezzati said.

“These successes show that preventing high blood pressure and improving its detection, treatment, and control are feasible across low- and middle-income settings if international donors and national governments commit to addressing this major cause of disease and death.”

The observational study, which has been reviewed by independent experts, was published in The Lancet this month. It is said to be the most comprehensive analysis charting global hypertension prevalence, diagnosis and treatment, and analysed blood pressure measurements of over 100 million people from 184 countries. 

High blood pressure is linked to more than 8.5 million annual deaths worldwide, and is a leading risk factor for medical episodes like store, ischaemic heart disease, other vascular diseases and renal diseases. 

Measures to help poorer and middle-income nations improve their rates of hypertension include policies that improve access to healthier foods like fruits and vegetables, and reduce salt intake. Ezzati also suggested that universal health coverage and higher standards of primary care can improve the detection of hypertension among these populations.

“Ensuring uninterrupted access to effective drugs must be financed and implemented to slow the growing epidemic of high blood pressure in low- and middle-income countries,” Ezzati said.

Since 1990 rates of hypertension in Australia have declined by 5%, with more men than women experiencing symptoms. But only half of those with hypertension in Australia (26% women and 32% men) are reported to be receiving treatment for the condition.


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