Only 33% have ‘silent killer’ high blood pressure under control

The world’s largest high blood pressure screening study has revealed that just one in three people with the condition has it under control.

British doctor taking senior man's blood pressure in surgery room having a check up
British doctor taking senior man's blood pressure in surgery room having a check up

A pioneering global initiative by the International Society of Hypertension (ISH) to screen the blood pressure of as many people globally as possible managed to screen more than 1.5 million people across countries of all incomes in 2018.

Around 66 per cent of participants found to have hypertension had their condition under control, either because they were unaware, not on treatment, or both - or, their treatment was not working well enough.

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According to the most recent Global Burden of Disease study (2017), raised blood pressure is the biggest contributor to disease and mortality worldwide, with 10.4 million raised blood pressure related deaths in 2017.

Urgent calls have been made for the Scottish Government to set up a high blood pressure task force amid claims the “silent killer” affects up to 1.3 million Scots - many of whom are unaware they have it.

High blood pressure can be a major risk factor when it comes to heart attacks and strokes, which cost the NHS in Scotland an estimated £800m each year.

To help tackle this burden and address the lack of priority given to blood pressure monitoring and control in most countries of the world, the ISH decided to take action, using a global network of volunteers to measure the blood pressure of as many people as possible during the month of May.

The project, called May Measurement Month (MMM), began in 2017 and is now in its third year.

Professor Neil Poulter, Director of the Imperial Clinical Trials Unit at Imperial College London, said the “the simplest way to save lives is to increase awareness and get people’s blood pressure checked”.

He added: “It is urgent that we act to address the enormous burden that hypertension is placing on every country in the world.

“As long as we have sufficient support, we will continue to grow MMM on an annual basis, making May the month the world checks its blood pressure.”

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In 2017, some 1.2 million people in 80 countries were screened. Now, the results of MMM for 2018 are available, and the initiative has grown to 89 countries and 1.5 million people screened.

These latest results for 2018 are being published today in the European Heart Journal as part of World Hypertension Day.