July 23, 2024

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WHO: First Report on Hypertension’s Impact and Control Strategies

WHO: First Report on Hypertension’s Impact and Control Strategies

WHO: First Report on Hypertension’s Impact and Control Strategies. 

World Health Organization Releases First Report on Devastating Impact of Hypertension and Strategies for Control.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has unveiled its inaugural report on the destructive global effects of hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, and has put forth recommendations to combat this silent killer.

The report reveals that approximately four out of five hypertensive individuals do not receive adequate treatment, and expanding treatment coverage could prevent 76 million deaths between 2023 and 2050.

WHO: First Report on Hypertension's Impact and Control Strategies. 

High blood pressure affects one-third of adults worldwide, posing a significant risk for conditions such as strokes, heart attacks, heart failure, kidney damage, and various other health issues.

Between 1990 and 2019, the number of people with high blood pressure (defined as having blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher or taking medication for hypertension) doubled, rising from 650 million to 1.3 billion. Currently, nearly half of all individuals with high blood pressure are unaware of their condition, and over three-quarters of adult hypertensive patients live in low- and middle-income countries.

Factors such as aging and genetics increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, but modifiable risk factors like a high-salt diet, lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol consumption also contribute to this risk.

Lifestyle changes such as adopting a healthier diet, quitting smoking, and increasing physical activity can help lower blood pressure. Some individuals may require medication to effectively manage high blood pressure and prevent related complications.

Prevention, early detection, and effective management of hypertension are among the most cost-effective interventions in healthcare, and countries should prioritize their inclusion in national health packages provided at the primary healthcare level. The economic benefits versus costs of improving hypertension treatment planning are estimated to be approximately 18:1.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, stated, “High blood pressure can be effectively controlled with simple, low-cost medication regimens, yet only about one in five individuals with hypertension currently have their condition under control. Hypertension control programs remain neglected, underfunded, and insufficiently prioritized. Strengthening hypertension control must be part of every country’s efforts to achieve universal health coverage and should depend on well-functioning, equitable, and resilient health systems built on primary healthcare.”

The report was released during the 78th United Nations General Assembly and addresses progress toward Sustainable Development Goals, including pandemic prevention and response, ending tuberculosis, and achieving universal health coverage. Better prevention and control of hypertension are crucial for progress in all of these areas.

By increasing the number of individuals with effective hypertension treatment from now until 2050 to the levels seen in high-performing countries, it is possible to prevent 76 million deaths, 120 million strokes, 79 million heart attacks, and 17 million cases of heart failure.

Dr. Michael Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador for Non-Communicable Diseases and Injuries, said, “Most heart attacks and strokes worldwide can now be prevented with affordable and accessible medicines and other interventions, such as reducing sodium intake. Treating hypertension through primary healthcare can save lives and billions of dollars each year.”

Using planning tools like HEARTS and affordable generic medications, hypertension can be easily managed. WHO’s technical package on managing cardiovascular diseases in primary healthcare settings and the “Adult Hypertension Medication Therapy Guidelines” offer practical steps for providing effective hypertension care in primary healthcare environments.

Effective community and national blood pressure management are achievable in countries at all income levels. Over 40 low- and middle-income countries, including Bangladesh, Cuba, India, and Sri Lanka, have strengthened hypertension care through the HEARTS package, reaching over 170 million people with treatment plans. Countries like Canada and South Korea have implemented comprehensive national hypertension treatment plans, with both achieving blood pressure control rates of over 50%. Sustained, systematic national hypertension control planning can succeed, with high levels of blood pressure control resulting in healthier and longer lives.

The report emphasizes that implementing effective hypertension care as recommended by WHO, including five key components, is critical for saving lives:

1. Protocols: Practical dosing and drug-specific treatment protocols, along with specific action steps for managing uncontrolled blood pressure, can streamline care and improve compliance.
2. Medication and Supplies: Regular and uninterrupted access to affordable medications is essential for effective hypertension treatment; currently, there is over a tenfold difference in the price of basic antihypertensive medications among countries.
3. Team-Based Care: Collaborative care, adjusting and intensifying blood pressure medication regimens based on guidelines and protocols, can enhance patient outcomes.
4. Patient-Centered Services: Reducing barriers to care through easily administered medication regimens, free medications, convenient follow-ups, and readily available blood pressure monitoring can improve care.
5. Information Systems: User-friendly information systems aid in rapidly recording essential patient data, reducing data entry burdens on healthcare workers, and supporting rapid scaling while maintaining or enhancing care quality.

Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, stated, “Over a thousand people die from strokes and heart attacks every hour. Most of these deaths are caused by high blood pressure and most could have been prevented. Good hypertension care is affordable and accessible and strengthens primary healthcare. The challenge now is to move from ‘accessible’ to ‘covered.’ This will require commitments from governments worldwide.”

Learn more about the global impact of hypertension and the HEARTS technical package for hypertension control here.

Read the full report here.

WHO: First Report on Hypertension’s Impact and Control Strategies. 

(source:internet, reference only)

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