The proportion of the world’s adult population with high blood pressure is predicted to increase from a quarter to a third by 2025, totalling over one billion, conclude authors of a study published in this week’s issue of The LANCET.
High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for mortality and increases a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. The prevalence of high blood pressure in various regions of the world has been previously reported but this is the first study to estimate the total worldwide figure.
Accurate estimates of the worldwide prevalence of this condition are an essential source of information for planning of health services. Measurement of the global burden of hypertension will allow public health and policy makers to assign sufficient priority and resources into its management and prevention.
Jaing He (Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, LA, USA) and colleagues pooled data from 30 population-based studies, published from January 1, 1980 to December 31, 2002, involving over 700,000 people, from different regions of the world. The investigators found that the total number of adults with high blood pressure in 2000 was 972 million; 333 million in economically developed countries and 639 million in developing countries. The number of adults with high blood pressure was predicted to increase by about 60% to a total of 1.56 billion in 2025.
The increase in prevalence of high blood pressure is mostly attributed to the number of people with the condition in developing regions. The prevalence of high blood pressure is set to increase by 24% in developed countries and by 80% in developing countries. On the basis of these estimates, in 2025, three quarters of the world’s population with high blood pressure will be in developing regions.
Dr He comments: “The global burden of high blood pressure supports predictions of worldwide epidemic of cardiovascular disease. During the past century, such disease has changed from minor cause of death and disability to one of the major contributors to the global burden of disease. Cardiovascular diseases are now responsible for 30% of all deaths worldwide.
“High blood pressure is an important health issue not only because of its high frequency but also because it is a major modifiable risk factor for cardiovascular disease and kidney disease. Interventions that have proven effective include weight loss, reduced salt intake, moderating alcohol consumption, potassium supplementation, modification of eating habits, and increased physical activity.”
Dr He concludes: “The magnitude of the burden of hypertension needs not only an increase in awareness, treatment, and control of this condition, but also concerted efforts that target primary prevention. Changes in lifestyle of the general population, would result in a lower prevalence of high blood pressure.”