Adequately treating high blood pressure, or hypertension, would save 76 million lives between this year and 2050, according to a new report from the World Health Organization (WHO). About 1 in 3 adults around the world have this condition, which can lead to stroke, heart attack and failure, kidney damage, and other health problems. And the majority of those with hypertension—about 4 out of every 5 people—are not treated through timely diagnosis, lifestyle changes, medication, or a combination of all three, according to the first-of-its-kind report.
Although low-cost medications such as amlodipine or losartan can control high blood pressure, it’s still responsible for roughly 10 million deaths per year. “Hypertension control programs remain neglected, under-prioritized, and vastly underfunded,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said in a news release accompanying the report. This report, released during the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, is WHO’s first on the global impact of high blood pressure.
“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,” Ghebreyesus added.
More than half of those with hypertension, defined as a blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg, don’t know they have it. During a standard check-up in a doctor’s office, a blood pressure test measures the pressure in a patient’s arteries when their heart beats (which is the first number in a reading) and when the heart rests (the second number.) Increasing access to healthcare could help increase diagnosis and get effective treatments to those in need. Medication can help lower high