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expert reaction to study looking at global incidence of hypertension

A study published in The Lancet looks at worldwide trends in hypertension prevalence and progress in treatment and control from 1990 to 2019.


Prof Robert Storey, Professor of Cardiology at the University of Sheffield, said:

“The pandemic of cardiovascular disease has received less attention in the last 18 months but reflects concerning worldwide trends in unhealthy lifestyle choices such as high fat, sugar, salt and alcohol intake, sedentary lifestyles with avoidance of exercise, and smoking, all of which lead to higher blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels that cause damage to the blood vessels that supply the heart and brain. Higher-income countries such as the UK have been able to take some steps to combat this, including measures to reduce smoking that have proved successful whilst measures to improve diet and exercise levels have been limited so far. The ability of individuals to monitor their own blood pressure with home monitors and witness the beneficial effects of exercise and dietary restriction is a positive step forward, as is health screening that allows high blood pressure to be detected at an early stage when it can be treated more effectively. Still the UK has quite some way to go in improving how seriously high blood pressure is regarded and tightening up on effective management, in particular aiming for lower levels of blood pressure when people are resting and relaxed. Low-to-middle income countries are now witnessing the effects of unhealthy lifestyle changes that have affected wealthier countries, including increased levels of high blood pressure, and this is increasing the burden of heart disease and strokes. It is essential that best practice in government policy is adopted by all countries in order to avoid a timebomb of heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure detection and, where necessary, treatment with cheap drugs in addition to lifestyle changes are an essential part of this.”


Prof Sir Mark Caulfield, Chief Executive of Barts Life Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, and former President of the British Hypertension Society, said:

“Hypertension is the world’s most prevalent risk factor leading to major morbidity and mortality stroke and coronary disease. This stock take on hypertension suggests that global efforts should be intensified to ensure this treatable risk factor is addressed, especially in the lowest income countries.”



‘Worldwide trends in hypertension prevalence and progress in treatment and control from 1990 to 2019: a pooled analysis of 1201 population-representative studies with 104 million participants’ by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration wsd published in The Lancet at 23.30 Tuesday 24th August 2021.



Declared interests

None received.



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