The number of people across the globe suffering from high
blood pressure has almost doubled over the past four decades, with the
biggest rise in south Asia and Africa, researchers said.
Poor countries and people
"High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for stroke and heart
disease, and kills around 7.5 million people worldwide every year," said
lead author Professor Majid Ezzati from Imperial College in London.
"Taken globally, high blood pressure is no longer a problem of the
Western world or wealthy countries. It is a problem of the world's poorest
countries and people."
Between 1975 and 2015, the tally of adults with high blood pressure rose
from 594 million to over 1.1 billion, according to the overview, published in The
Lancet medical journal.
At the same time, high income countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany
and Japan have made "impressive reductions" in the prevalence of high
blood pressure, the study found.
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The biggest increase in cases was registered in low- and middle-income
countries in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and some Pacific island nations,
In 2015, more than half of all adults with high blood pressure – some 590
million people – were living in east, southeast and south Asia. Of that number,
226 million were in China and 199 million in India.
'A serious health problem'
Around a third of woman living in most West African countries also suffer
from high blood pressure.
Hypertension also remains a "serious health problem" in several
countries in central and eastern Europe, where more than a third of men are
living with the condition, the paper said.
People with high blood pressure – which is also known as hypertension – have
a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and dementia.
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According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), blood pressure is
considered as high when it rises to 140/90 and over.
Ezzati said that without introducing "effective policies" to allow
the poorest to improve their diet, particularly by reducing salt intake and
making fruit and vegetables affordable, the WHO's 2025 target of reducing high
blood pressure cases by 25 percent was "unlikely to be achieved".
At the other end of the scale, Canada, Australia, Britain and the United
States, Peru, South Korea and Singapore had the lowest proportion of adults
living with high blood pressure in 2015, with around or fewer than one in eight
women and one in five men affected.
The data used in the study came from 19.1 million people aged 18 or older,
living in 200 countries.
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