The number of people with high blood pressure has doubled worldwide, according to a large study

That’s even though there are many cheap and easy treatments out there – from healthier eating and exercise to pills that lower blood pressure safely using a variety of mechanisms.

It’s also easy to measure, but obviously many people don’t even get this basic level of care in rich and poor countries alike, the study published in the Lancet medical journal find. The result: 8.5 million deaths each year, according to the World Health Organization. High blood pressure causes strokes, heart failure, and failure of other organs such as the kidneys.

“We used data from 1990 to 2019 on people aged 30 to 79 from representative population studies with blood pressure measurement and blood pressure treatment data,” the global team said. led by Majid Ezzati, Global Health Specialist at Imperial College London. , wrote.

“We defined hypertension as systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) of 140 mm Hg or more, diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number in a reading) of 90 mm Hg or more , or taking medication for high blood pressure. “

The researchers looked at data covering 184 countries. The number of people with high blood pressure has doubled from 648 million in 1990 to nearly 1.3 billion in 2019, they found.

“Policies that enable people in the poorest countries to access healthier food – in particular by reducing salt intake and making fruits and vegetables more affordable and accessible – while improving detection by expanding coverage universal health and primary care, and ensuring uninterrupted access to effective medicines, must be funded and implemented to slow the growing epidemic of high blood pressure in low- and middle-income countries, ”Ezzati said in a communicated.

Many high-income countries including Canada, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Spain have reported their numbers of people with hypertension at historically low levels, but low- and middle-income countries like Paraguay and Central European countries like Hungary, Poland and Croatia had high rates. Canada and Peru had the lowest rates of high blood pressure. “The prevalence of hypertension was highest in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Oceania, Southern Africa and some countries in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the team wrote.

Overall, just under a third of men and women worldwide between the ages of 30 and 79 had high blood pressure, according to the study.

“The cardiovascular disease pandemic has received less attention over the past 18 months, but reflects worrying global trends in unhealthy lifestyle choices such as high consumption of fat, sugar, salt and alcohol, sedentary lifestyles with avoidance of exercise and smoking, all of which lead to higher blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels which damage the blood vessels that supply the heart and brain, ”said Robert Storey, professor of cardiology at the University of Sheffield who was not involved in the study.

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