Patients with high blood pressure double to 130 crore: WHO's first-ever report details devastating impact of hypertension

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The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday released its first-ever report hypertension along with recommendations on the ways to win the race against this silent killer. According to WHO, approximately 4 out of every 5 people with high blood pressure are not adequately treated, but if countries can scale up coverage, 76 million deaths could be averted between 2023 and 2050.

Hypertension, according to estimates, affects 1 in 3 adults worldwide. Untreated, this leads to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney damage and many other health problems.

The number of people living with hypertension (blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher or taking medication for hypertension) doubled between 1990 and 2019, from 650 million to 1.3 billion and early half of people with hypertension globally are currently unaware of their condition, WHO said.
Though older age and genetics can increase the risk of having high blood pressure, other risk factors include eating high-salt diet, not being physically active and drinking too much alcohol. Though some people may need medicines that can control hypertension effectively and prevent related complications, lifestyle changes like eating a healthier diet, quitting tobacco and being more active can help lower blood pressure.

“Hypertension can be controlled effectively with simple, low-cost medication regimens, and yet only about one in five people with hypertension have controlled it.” Said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Hypertension control programmes remain neglected, under-prioritized and vastly underfunded. Strengthening hypertension control must be part of every country’s journey towards universal health coverage, based on well-functioning, equitable and resilient health systems, built on a foundation of primary health care.”

The prevention, early detection and effective management of hypertension, according to WHO, are among the most cost-effective interventions in health care and should be prioritized by countries as part of their national health benefit package offered at a primary care level.WHO noted that more than 40 low- and middle-income countries, including Bangladesh, Cuba, India and Sri Lanka, have strengthened their hypertension care with the HEARTS package, enrolling more than 17 million people into treatment programmes.

Here are five components of WHO-recommended effective hypertension care:

Protocol: drug-specific treatment protocols with specific action steps for managing uncontrolled blood pressure

Medication and equipment supply: Regular access to affordable medication

Team-based care: Patient outcomes improve when a team collaborates to adjust and intensify blood pressure medication regimens per doctor orders and protocols.

Patient-centred services: toFree medications and close-to-home follow-up visits, and making blood pressure monitoring readily available.

Information systems: user-centred, simple information systems facilitate rapid recording of essential patient-level data, reduce health care worker data entry burden, and support rapid scale-up while maintaining or improving the quality of care.