One in three people have high blood pressure

By June Shannon Heart News   |   17th May 2019

Results of the world’s largest blood pressure screening initiative published to mark World Hypertension Day (Friday May 17).

The largest global blood pressure screening study has found that one in three people have high blood pressure, one of the biggest risk factors for heart disease and stroke.

The worldwide initiative carried out by the International Society of Hypertension (ISH) to screen the blood pressure of as many people globally as possible managed to screen just over 1.5 million people across countries of all incomes in 2018.

The study also revealed that of those found to have high blood pressure just one in three had their condition under control, either because they were unaware that they had hypertension, were not on treatment, or both – or, their treatment was not working well enough.

According to the most recent Global Burden of Disease study (2017), raised blood pressure is the biggest contributor to disease and mortality worldwide, with 10.4 million raised blood pressure related deaths in 2017.

To help tackle this burden and address the lack of priority given to blood pressure monitoring and control in most countries of the world, the ISH decided to act, using a global network of volunteers to measure the blood pressure of as many people as possible during the month of May.

The project, called ‘May Measurement Month’, (MMM) began in 2017 and is now in its third year.

"The simplest way to save lives is to increase awareness and get people's blood pressure checked,"

Professor Neil Poulter, Professor of preventive cardiovascular medicine and Director of the Imperial Clinical Trials Unit , Imperial College London

“The simplest way to save lives is to increase awareness and get people’s blood pressure checked,” explained Professor Neil Poulter, Chief Investigator for MMM, Immediate Past-President of ISH, Professor of preventive cardiovascular medicine and Director of the Imperial Clinical Trials Unit at Imperial College London, in the UK.

In 2017, some 1.2 million people in 80 countries were screened and in 2018 the initiative grew to 89 countries and 1.5 million people were screened.

The new data from 2018 showed that 502 079 (33.4%) out of 1 504 963 participants were found to have hypertension. Of these, 298 940 (59.5%) were aware of their condition and 277 794 (55.3%) were on treatment. Of those on treatment, 166 580 (60.0%) were controlled and therefore just 33.2% of all those with hypertension were controlled. A total of 111 214 (40%) of people were taking blood pressure treatments but still had uncontrolled blood pressure. Furthermore, one in six (15%) of those screened overall (224 285) had hypertension and were not on any form of treatment.

Other interesting findings include that less than half (43%) of people screened had had their blood pressure checked in the last 12 months.

“In Ireland we know that nearly 1 million people have high blood pressure and this number is set to increase by 26 per cent in 2020,"

Marese Damery, Health Check Manager , Irish Heart Foundation

Marese Damery, Health Check Manager with The Irish Heart Foundation, said it was vital to see projects like May Measurement Month raise awareness of the risks associated with high blood pressure.

“In Ireland we know that nearly 1 million people have high blood pressure and this number is set to increase by 26 per cent in 2020. The findings in this study are very consistent with the small study carried out through our Mobile Health Unit which also showed that people previously diagnosed with high blood pressure still had high blood pressure readings when checked by our nurses.

“We would really encourage people who know they have high blood pressure to keep it under control, have regular blood pressure check-ups and continue taking their medication as advised by their GP. Visit our Mobile Health Unit to have your blood pressure checked and our expert nurses will provide lots of information and advice on how to manage your condition,” she said.

These latest results for 2018 are published in the European Heart Journal as part of World Hypertension Day (Friday May 17).

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heart disease high blood pressure hypertension May Measurement Month mobile health unit stroke stroke prevention

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