The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently released its first-ever report on the widespread and devastating impact of hypertension (high blood pressure), often termed the ‘silent killer’.
The numbers are alarming, with 4 out of 5 people suffering from hypertension not adequately treated.
Moreover, hypertension affects 1 in 3 adults globally and leads to numerous serious health issues like strokes, heart attacks, kidney damage, and more.
Surging Numbers, Unaware Populace
Between 1990 and 2019, the number of people living with hypertension doubled, from 650 million to 1.3 billion.
Alarmingly, nearly half of them are unaware of their condition. The bulk of the affected population resides in low- and middle-income countries.
Lifestyle Changes and Effective Medication
While factors like older age and genetics contribute to high blood pressure, lifestyle choices—like high salt intake, lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol consumption—can also increase the risk.
Simple lifestyle modifications, such as adopting a healthier diet and increased physical activity, along with affordable medications can manage hypertension effectively.
Economic Impact and Recommendations
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, highlighted the neglect and underfunding of hypertension control programs.
According to the report, effective hypertension management is among the most cost-effective health interventions and has an 18 to 1 cost-benefit ratio.
WHO’s report, launched during the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly, stresses that better hypertension control is key to achieving broader health goals, including pandemic preparedness and universal health coverage.
Global Reach and Solutions
More than 40 countries, including Bangladesh, Cuba, India, and Sri Lanka, have successfully enrolled millions in treatment programs using the WHO’s HEARTS technical package.
Developed nations like Canada and South Korea have also surpassed a 50% control rate in hypertension among adults. The report outlines a five-component strategy to improve hypertension care:
- Protocol: Drug- and dose-specific treatment plans to streamline care.
- Medication and Equipment Supply: Regular access to affordable medication.
- Team-Based Care: Collaborative care to improve patient outcomes.
- Patient-Centered Services: Easier access to medication and monitoring.
- Information Systems: User-friendly systems for effective healthcare data management.
The Path Forward
The report calls for urgent, worldwide commitment to control hypertension. Dr. Tom Frieden, President & CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, summarizes the pressing need:
“Good hypertension care is affordable, within reach, and strengthens primary health care. The challenge now is to go from ‘within reach’ to ‘reached.'”
As WHO’s report indicates, effective treatment and prevention strategies could prevent 76 million deaths, 120 million strokes, 79 million heart attacks, and 17 million cases of heart failure between now and 2050. The time for action is now.
If you care about high blood pressure, please read studies about how fasting may help reverse high blood pressure naturally, and this diet could help reduce high blood pressure.
For more information about blood pressure, please see recent studies about why people with high blood pressure more likely to have severe COVID-19, and results showing an important but ignored cause of high blood pressure.
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