Almost half of adults with hypertension unaware they have it: WHO

Hypertension can be seen as a “silent killer” worldwide, as many people are unaware they have it, according to a recent study conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“High blood pressure kills,” WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote. “In fact, cardiovascular diseases are the world’s leading cause of death.”

In 2019, 1.3 billion people around the world were diagnosed with hypertension, and the study found that 10.8 million deaths every year could have been avoided. High blood pressure causes more deaths globally than tobacco use and high blood sugar, the report found.

The report nicknamed hypertension as “the silent killer” because 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure but do not experience symptoms. Almost half of people with the condition are unaware, the study found.

In the study, high blood pressure is defined as having a pressure rating greater than 110 to 115 millimeters of mercury.

“Although hypertension can be prevented and treated, few countries currently do so effectively,” according to the report. “Better hypertension management will save lives.”

In the United States, the report also found that women tend to be diagnosed with and treated for hypertension at higher rates than men. But, it found men in the U.S. have a higher probability of premature death due to noncommunicable disease than women.

Risk factors studied include daily salt intake, current tobacco and alcohol consumption, obesity and physical activity. The WHO suggested countries establish comprehensive healthy eating and living programs and increase access to health care systems to combat the growing number of people who have hypertension.

“It will reduce burdens on acute-care services, increase integration of health care systems and, most importantly, reduce the deaths, suffering and costs arising from complications such as heart attack, stroke and kidney failure,” the report concluded.

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