Hypertensions Affects Millions

By: Sharon Bell

In 2025, one in three adults aged over 20 years or 1.56 billion people worldwide will have hypertension.

This frightening prediction comes from Dr. Jiang He and colleagues at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana, who looked at the overall prevalence of hypertension in 2000. The word "prevalence" refers to the estimated number of people who are managing hypertension at any given time.

The future global burden of hypertension was predicted after researchers studied data from 18 national and 12 regional surveys made between 1998 and 2002 in 7 world regions. Their analysis was published in The Lancet, one of the oldest medical journals in the world.

"Overall, 26.4 percent of the world's adult population in 2000 had hypertension (26.6 percent of men and 26.1 percent of women). This meant an estimated 972 million adults, broken out as 333 million in economically developed countries and 639 million in economically developing countries. In men, hypertension prevalence was highest in the Latin American and the Caribbean region, whereas in women it was highest in the 'former socialist countries' of Europe. The lowest prevalence for both men and women was in the 'other Asia and islands' region. In general, the prevalence of hypertension at younger ages was higher in men than in women, but among older people (over 60 years) it was higher in women," according to Medscape, a web resource for physicians and other health professionals.

Based on the data they collected, He and colleagues predict that by 2025, the number of adults with hypertension will increase by about 60 percent and affect 1.56 billion people worldwide. The researchers added that this increase will mostly be seen in economically developing regions.

Unfortunately, half of those with hypertension are unaware that they have the disease and only 13 percent have been treated. Untreated, hypertension can lead to stroke, heart attack, blindness, kidney failure or heart failure.

"Hypertension has no symptoms so the patient has to be evaluated thoroughly before things get worse," according to Dr. Homobono Calleja, director emeritus of St. Luke's Medical Center Heart Institute in Manila.

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