High Blood Pressure is a Global Problem
We periodically address high blood pressure or hypertension, because it is such a common health concern in this country. Nearly half of Americans have high blood pressure! But is a global concern, too, and researchers from the School of Public Health at Imperial College of London assessed worldwide data on the growing incidence of high blood pressure. In fact, the number of people worldwide with hypertension doubled between 1990 and 2019, or over the span of almost 30 years. Here is more from their evaluations.
The researchers gathered data to assess hypertension in men and women between the ages of 30 and 79 years. They defined hypertension as either 1) a reading of systolic 140 over diastolic 90, or 2) taking high blood pressure medications.
The findings? Hypertension rates increased between 1990-2019. High blood pressure rates went from:
- 331 million to 626 million in women
- 317 million to 652 million in men
Those countries providing the highest treatment of hypertension were South Korea, Canada and Iceland. Treatment rates were good in the U.S, Costa Rica, Germany, Portugal and Taiwan. However, hypertension treatment rates were less than 25% for women and less than 20% for men in certain African and Oceania countries.
We have the know-how to diagnose and treat hypertension, but there is work to do on the global stage. Just a reminder, in the U.S. the American Heart Association suggests that the best blood pressure reading be less than 120 over less than 80. It is considered elevated when the systolic reading is 120-129.
Remember, letting blood pressure stay elevated or undiagnosed is tough on the body, and can lead to strokes, heart attacks, heart failure and vision loss. Regular exercise, a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables and legumes, and medications when indicated are the ways to get your blood pressure readings in the normal range, reducing your risk of having a heart attack, stroke or heart failure.
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.
By: Rita P. Smith, MS, RD, CDE, Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital