The World Health Organisation, (WHO), on Tuesday released its first-ever report on the devastating global impact of high blood pressure, along with recommendations on the ways to win the race against the silent killer, stating that, half of people with hypertension are not aware of their condition.

The report also revealed that approximately four out of every five people with hypertension are not adequately treated.

It further added that if countries can scale up coverage of the condition, 76 million deaths could be averted between 2023 and 2050.

According to the WHO report, hypertension affects 1 in 3 adults worldwide.

“This common, deadly condition leads to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney damage and many other health problems.

“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 report found that older age and genetics can increase the risk of having high blood pressure, but modifiable risk factors such as eating a high-salt diet, not being physically active and drinking too much alcohol can also increase the risk of hypertension.

It also recommended that lifestyle changes like eating a healthier diet, quitting tobacco and being more active can help lower blood pressure.

“Some people may need medicines that can control hypertension effectively and prevent related complications.”

“The prevention, early detection and effective management of hypertension are among the most cost-effective interventions in health care and should be prioritised by countries as part of their national health benefit package offered at a primary care level. The economic benefits of improved hypertension treatment programmes outweigh the costs by about 18 to 1.”

Reacting to the report, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that hypertension can be controlled effectively with simple, low-cost medication regimens, lamenting that only about one in five people with hypertension have controlled it.

“Hypertension control programmes remain neglected, under-prioritised and vastly underfunded. Strengthening hypertension control must be part of every country’s journey towards universal health coverage, based on well-functioning, equitable and resilient health systems, built on a foundation of primary health care,” he added.

The report which is being launched at the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly addresses progress for the Sustainable Development Goals including health goals on pandemic preparedness and response, ending tuberculosis and attaining Universal Health Coverage.  It also addressed better prevention and control of hypertension will be essential to progress in all of these.

It also found that an increase in the number of patients effectively treated for hypertension to levels observed in high-performing countries could prevent 76 million deaths, 120 million strokes, 79 million heart attacks, and 17 million cases of heart failure between now and 2050.

On his part, Michael R. Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador for Non-communicable Diseases and Injuries noted that most heart attacks and strokes in the world today can be prevented with affordable, safe, accessible medicines and other interventions, such as sodium reduction.

He said: “Treating hypertension through primary health care will save lives, while also saving billions of dollars a year.”

He said hypertension can easily be treated with safe, widely available, low-cost generic medications using programmes such as HEARTS.

Speaking, President & CEO of Resolve to Save Lives,Dr Tom Frieden said: “Every hour, more than 1,000 people die from strokes and heart attacks. Most of these deaths are caused by high blood pressure, and most could have been prevented.”

“Good hypertension care is affordable, within reach, and strengthens primary health care. The challenge now is to go from “within reach” to “reached.” This will require commitment of governments around the world.”

@ Vanguard Newspaper

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