More than 1.2 billion people living with high blood pressure worldwide

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In a new study from Imperial College London, researchers found over the past 30 years, the number of adults (aged 30-79 years) living with hypertension worldwide has doubled—rising from an estimated 331 million women and 317 million men in 1990, to 626 million women and 652 million men in 2019.

They analyzed blood pressure measurements from more than 100 million people taken over three decades in 184 countries.

They found despite being straightforward to diagnose and relatively easy to treat with low-cost drugs, nearly half of people (41% of women and 51% of men) with hypertension worldwide in 2019 were unaware of their condition.

And more than half of women (53%) and men (62%) with the condition weren’t treated.

Worldwide, blood pressure was controlled (ie, medicines were effective in bringing blood pressure to normal ranges) in fewer than 1 in 4 women and 1 in 5 men with hypertension.

Large improvements in treatment and control rates are seen in some middle-income countries over the past three decades.

High blood pressure is directly linked to more than 8.5 million deaths worldwide each year and is the leading risk factor for stroke, ischaemic heart disease, other vascular diseases, and renal disease.

Lowering blood pressure can cut the number of strokes by 35%-40%, heart attacks by 20%-25%, and heart failure by around 50%.

The team says global progress in high blood pressure management has been slow, and the vast majority of people with hypertension remain untreated.

Their analysis has revealed good practice in diagnosing and treating high blood pressure not just in high-income countries but also in middle-income countries.

These successes show that preventing high blood pressure and improving its detection, treatment, and control are feasible across low- and middle-income settings.

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The study is published in The Lancet. One author of the study is Professor Majid Ezzati.

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