According to new research from the World Health Organization (WHO), high blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects 1.3 billion people worldwide. Shockingly, four out of five people with high blood pressure are not receiving adequate treatment, and nearly half of those affected are unaware they have the condition. High blood pressure is a dangerous condition that can lead to heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, and other health problems. Despite the availability of simple and cost-effective drugs to treat hypertension, it continues to be a major public health concern globally.
Astonishingly, high blood pressure is responsible for 10.8 million avoidable deaths annually, making it the leading cause of early deaths worldwide. Dr. Tom Frieden, president and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, emphasized that high blood pressure is the most neglected deadly condition. The WHO report reveals that behavioral factors such as consuming high-salt foods, leading a sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption, and exposure to air pollution contribute to the increasing prevalence of hypertension.
The report urges countries to implement specific treatment protocols, ensuring access to affordable medications and blood-pressure monitoring. Unfortunately, in the United States, less than half of the 69 million people aged 30 to 79 with hypertension have their condition under control. Dr. Frieden expressed his frustration with the lack of progress, stating that the U.S. spends trillions of dollars on healthcare yet fails to manage hypertension, which is the most fundamental aspect of preventative care.
Affordability and availability of essential blood-pressure drugs vary widely among countries, with many paying more than necessary. The WHO highlights the need for regulatory measures to address this issue and prevent markups on basic medications, such as amlodipine and hydrochlorothiazide, which can be as cheap as 1 cent per tablet. Notably, three-quarters of adults with hypertension reside in low- and middle- income countries, creating a barrier to accessing affordable medication.
The global impact of high blood pressure goes beyond individual health and extends to the economy. The report emphasizes the economic toll on society due to lost wages, lower productivity, and reduced tax income. To address this silent killer, the WHO calls on governments and health organizations to prioritize hypertension treatment and work towards making medications accessible for all.
– World Health Organization (WHO)
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