Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Over 30m adults in Pakistan suffering from high blood pressure: WHO

Report says Pakistan lacked treatment guidelines for managing hypertension and national target for blood pressure

A representational image. — Canva
A representational image. — Canva 

  • Only 44% hypertensive people are diagnosed, says report. 
  • 450,000 people died of cardiovascular disease in 2019, it says. 
  • Pakistan lacks treatment guidelines for managing hypertension.

ISLAMABAD: Over 30 million adults in Pakistan have been suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure, said the World Health Organisation (WHO) in its first-ever hypertension report. 

The report, titled, "The race against a silent killer” said that of the 32.2 million hypertensive people only 44% are diagnosed, including 34% men and 54% women. 

It added that only 35% are receiving treatment while only 11% controlled hypertension (8% men, 14% women).

The WHO report said daily salt consumption per capita is 9 grams while 21% of people are smokers, including 34% males and 8% females as per 2019 data. 

The report pointed out that 34% Pakistani population is physically inactive as per 2016 data.

It highlighted that around 450,000 people died of cardiovascular disease in Pakistan in 2019, of which 58% of deaths were attributed to high blood pressure. 

The report deplored that Pakistan lacked treatment guidelines for the management of hypertension while it also lacked a national target for blood pressure.

The country has no national target for salt consumption and it also lacks any functioning system for generating reliable cause-specific mortality data on a routine basis, added the report.

“In order to achieve a 50% control rate, 12.5 million more people with hypertension would need to be effectively treated. If the progress scenario were achieved, around 839,000 deaths would be averted by 2040,” the report suggested.

On an international level, as per the WHO report, those living with hypertension (blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher or taking medication for hypertension) doubled between 1990 and 2019, from 650 million to 1.3 billion.

Nearly half of people with hypertension globally are currently unaware of their condition while more than three-quarters of adults with hypertension live in low and middle-income countries.

The report showed approximately 4 out of every 5 people with hypertension are not adequately treated, but if countries can scale up coverage, 76 million deaths could be averted between 2023 and 2050.

Hypertension affects 1 in 3 adults worldwide. This common, deadly condition leads to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney damage and many other health problems.

Older age and genetics can increase the risk of having high blood pressure, but modifiable risk factors such as eating a high-salt diet, not being physically active and drinking too much alcohol can also increase the risk of hypertension.

Lifestyle changes like eating a healthier diet, quitting tobacco and being more active can help lower blood pressure. Some people may need medicines that can control hypertension effectively and prevent related complications.

The prevention, early detection and effective management of hypertension are among the most cost-effective interventions in health care and should be prioritised by countries as part of their national health benefit package offered at a primary care level.

“Hypertension can be controlled effectively with simple, low-cost medication regimens, and yet only about one in five people with hypertension have controlled it,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The report was launched during the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which addresses progress for the sustainable development goals including health goals on pandemic preparedness and response, ending tuberculosis and attaining universal health coverage.