Hypertension is most associated with people who were overweight, or obese. Women are also more likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure as are those in the lowest income groups.

According to new research by the British Heart Foundation, high blood pressure could be devastating to the health of people from all around the world. Experts studied research from the WHO (World Health Organization’s) on Global Aging and Adult Health to look at the incidence of hypertension in Ghana, China, Russia, South Africa and Mexico. The study looked at 35,000 people over the age of 50.
World-wide, high blood pressure is believed to cause 7.5 million deaths a year, according to the WHO, which represents around 12.8% of all deaths. Globally in 2008 the prevalence of high blood pressure in adults aged 25 and over was around 40%, with increased population growth and aging the number of people, meaning that the condition grew from 600 million in 1980 to 1 billion in 2008.

Hypertension risk groups identified in the study

Hypertension was most associated with people who were overweight, or obese. Women were also more likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure as were those in the lowest income groups. Heavy use of alcohol was another of the hypertension risk groups for the condition. It was also discovered that awareness of the condition was low across all countries, with those actively controlling their high blood pressure likely to be older women or on a higher income.
South Africa was found to have the highest rate of high blood pressure in people aged over 50. It was found that 78 per cent of subjects studied tested positive for hypertension, with less than one in 10 people found to be effectively controlling the condition with medication. The lowest prevalence of raised blood pressure was found in the WHO Region of the Americas at 35% in both sexes (this as opposed to 46% in Africa overall).

People from all walks of life in hypertension risk groups

The study has shown that rates of hypertension in low and middle-income countries are strikingly high. There were also high rates of inadequate levels of control – even though half of the participants were aware they had the condition. Traditionally it’s been believed that hypertension was thought to be more common in more affluent Western societies. This new research however, has shown that hypertension has become a global problem with no preference for rich, poor, or whether people live in urban or rural environments.
The results of the study indicate that there needs to be increased awareness of how dangerous high blood pressure is. Since the ‘silent killer’ doesn’t present any symptoms it’s essential to have blood pressure measured, especially in those over 40.

Hypertension risk groups for secondary hypertension

Around 10% of high blood pressure cases result from an underlying condition or cause. These are referred to as secondary high blood pressure. Those who should be considered as belonging to hypertension risk groups include people suffering from Cushing’s syndrome, lupus, people taking the contraceptive pill and those with diabetes or kidney disease. Some painkillers and recreational drugs such as cocaine and amphetamines can also put people at higher risk of getting high blood pressure.

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