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First Report by WHO Reveals Destructive Consequences of High Blood Pressure and Effective Countermeasures


Sep 19, 2023

The World Health Organization (WHO) has recently published its first-ever report on the global impact of high blood pressure and has provided recommendations on how to combat this deadly condition. The report reveals that the majority of people with high blood pressure do not receive adequate treatment, but increasing insurance coverage could potentially prevent 76 million deaths between 2023 and 2050. High blood pressure affects one in three adults worldwide and can lead to severe health problems such as stroke, heart attack, heart failure, and kidney damage. The number of people with high blood pressure has doubled since 1990, reaching 1.3 billion in 2019. Alarmingly, nearly half of those affected are unaware of their condition. The prevalence of hypertension is higher in low- and middle-income countries, although certain risk factors such as a high-salt diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol consumption are modifiable. Making and maintaining lifestyle changes, such as adopting a healthier diet, quitting smoking, and engaging in regular exercise, can help manage blood pressure. However, some individuals may require medications to effectively control their condition and prevent complications. The prevention, early detection, and management of hypertension are cost-effective interventions that should be prioritized by countries as part of their national health benefit packages. It is estimated that improved hypertension treatment programs can result in economic benefits that outweigh the costs by approximately 18 to 1. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, stressed the importance of hypertension control programs but recognized their neglect, underprioritization, and lack of funding. The report will be presented during the United Nations General Assembly to address progress on health-related goals, including universal health coverage and pandemic preparedness. To achieve these goals and improve hypertension prevention and management, it is crucial to increase awareness and access to treatment. By effectively treating hypertension, millions of deaths, strokes, and heart attacks could be prevented. Michael R. Bloomberg, WHO’s Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries, emphasized the affordability and effectiveness of treating high blood pressure and the significant cost savings it can generate. WHO’s HEARTS technical package and pharmacotherapy guidelines provide practical steps for delivering hypertension care in primary healthcare settings and have been successfully implemented in various countries. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, highlighted the preventable nature of most stroke and heart attack deaths caused by high blood pressure and stressed the need for government cooperation worldwide. The partnership between WHO and Resolve to Save Lives aims to help countries implement the HEARTS technology package, a step-by-step approach to strengthening hypertension care in primary care settings. Bloomberg Philanthropies has also been providing support to WHO and Resolve to Save Lives’ global efforts since 2017, investing in initiatives to reduce tobacco and e-cigarette use, improve healthy food policies, enhance road safety, and promote maternal health. In July 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies further invested in cardiovascular health initiatives, bringing its total contributions to $216 million. By prioritizing the prevention and management of high blood pressure, it is possible to save lives and promote well-being on a global scale.

By Editor

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