Skip to main content

09-08-2016 | Hypertension | News | Article

Disparities in global hypertension rates widening

medwireNews: Nearly one-third of the world’s adult population had hypertension in 2010, with prevalence higher in low- and middle-income countries than in high-income countries for the first time in history, researchers report.

“Our findings call for global and local stakeholders to promote blood pressure screening, access to affordable health care and antihypertensive medications, and adherence to antihypertensive treatment to improve hypertension control in low- and middle-income countries,” say Jiang He (Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA) and study co-authors.

They add: “Implementation of innovative, cost-effective, and sustainable programs for hypertension prevention and control should be a public health priority for these countries.”

Using data on 968,419 adults from 90 countries, published in 135 population-based studies, He and team estimated that the worldwide prevalence of hypertension in adults aged 20 years and older was 31.1% in 2010.

The rate was slightly higher in men than in women, at 31.9% versus 30.1%, and was significantly higher in low- and middle-income countries compared with high-income countries, at 31.5% versus 28.5%.

This translates to approximately 75% of people with hypertension living in low- and middle-income countries – that is, 1.04 billion – while 349 million individuals with hypertension live in high-income countries.

In high-income countries, the greatest absolute burden was in people aged 60 years and older, whereas in low- and middle-income countries the greatest absolute burden was in those aged 40–59 years.

From 2000 to 2010, the hypertension prevalence in high-income countries decreased by 2.6%, and disease awareness, treatment and control each improved by around 10%, to 67.0%, 55.6% and 28.4%, respectively.

By contrast, low- and middle-income countries saw a 7.7% prevalence increase during the same 10-year period, alongside just a 4–5% improvement in awareness and treatment, to 37.9% and 29.0%, respectively, and slight decrease in control, from 8.4% to 7.7%.

The researchers speculate that increasing burden of hypertension in low- and middle-income countries “is most likely attributable to both increasing prevalence and substantial population growth.”

However, they note that, although nearly 80% of the world’s population was represented in their study, data on hypertension prevalence was not available for more than half of the countries, meaning that “inaccuracies in summary estimates resulting from missing country data could exist.”

In spite of this, He et al conclude in Circulation that their data “document large and widening global disparities in hypertension prevalence and control.”

By Laura Cowen

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2016