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Global impact of high BP: WHO Report

  • Published
    20th Sep, 2023

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released it’s first-ever report on the global impact of high blood pressure.

Hypertension is the most important risk factor for death and disability in India, according to a paper in The Lancet, regional health (South-east Asia), published late last year.

Highlights of the Report:

  • The WHO report states that hypertension affects one in three adults worldwide. This common, deadly condition leads to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney damage and many other health problems.
  • Approximately four out of every five people with hypertension are not adequately treated, but if countries can scale up coverage, 76 million deaths could be averted between 2023 and 2050.
  • 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 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.
  • The world organisation states that lifestyle changes such as eating a healthier diet, quitting tobacco and being more active can help lower blood pressure.

The economic benefits of improved hypertension treat­ment programmes outweigh the costs by about 18 to 1.

What is Hypertension?

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) is when the pressure in your blood vessels is too high (140/90 mmHg or higher).
  • It is common but can be serious if not treated.
  • People with high blood pressure may not feel symptoms. The only way to know is to get your blood pressure checked.
  • Blood pressure is written as two numbers;
    • The first (systolic) number represents the pressure in blood vessels when the heart contracts or beats.
    • The second (diastolic) number represents the pressure in the vessels when the heart rests between beats.
  • Hypertension is diagnosed if, when it is measured on two different days, the systolic blood pressure readings on both days is ≥140 mmHg and/or the diastolic blood pressure readings on both days is ≥90 mmHg.
  • Things that increase the risk of having high blood pressure include:
    • older age
    • genetics
    • being overweight or obese
    • not being physically active
    • high-salt diet
    • drinking too much alcohol

Key facts

  • An estimated 1.28 billion adults aged 30–79 years worldwide have hypertension, most (two-thirds) living in low- and middle-income countries
  • An estimated 46% of adults with hypertension are unaware that they have the condition.
  • Less than half of adults (42%) with hypertension are diagnosed and treated.
  • Approximately 1 in 5 adults (21%) with hypertension have it under control.
  • Hypertension is a major cause of premature death worldwide.
  • One of the global targets for non-communicable diseases is to reduce the prevalence of hypertension by 33% between 2010 and 2030.

Government Initiatives

  • Hypertension Control Initiative Programme: It is a large-scale hypertension intervention under the National Health Mission and has been recognised for its positive work done within the country’s existing primary healthcare system.
  • Indian Hypertension Control Initiative (IHCI) is a 5-year initiative involving the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Indian Council of Medical Research, State Governments, and WHO-India.
    • By December 2021, the IHCI program was implemented in 101 districts across 19 states and enrolled more than 20 lakh patients in 13,000+health facilities.
    • In the 26 initial Phase I districts, nearly one-fifth (22%) of the estimated total number of people with hypertension in the district were enrolled.
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