BHF response to double the number of people with high blood pressure worldwide

15 November 2016        

Category: BHF Comment

Blood pressure assessment

A new study by Imperial College London reveals that the number of people with high blood pressure has nearly doubled in 40 years, taking the total to 1.13 billion worldwide.

What was the study about?

Funded by the Wellcome Trust, this is the largest ever study of its kind, involving the World Health Organization and hundreds of scientists throughout the world, incorporating blood pressure measurements from nearly 20 million people. 

The team studied changes in blood pressure in every country in the world between 1975 and 2015. The findings, published in the journal The Lancet, showed that while blood pressure has dropped sharply in high-income countries, it has risen in many low and middle-income countries, especially those in Africa and South Asia. The UK was found to be the European country with the lowest proportion of people with high blood pressure in 2015.

The research also revealed men had higher blood pressure than women in most countries in the world in 2015. The study showed that much of the rise in the number of people with high blood pressure over the last 40 years is also due to a larger, and older, world population.

How did we respond?

Julie Ward, Blood Pressure Manager at the British Heart Foundation, said: “These statistics are shocking. There are 16 million people living with high blood pressure in the UK alone but it’s clear this is a global problem that is a major cause of heart attacks and strokes around the world. 

“These findings remind us that people living in deprived areas are at a much greater risk of having high blood pressure. And we remain greatly concerned that almost half of all people with high blood pressure in the UK are unaware of their condition and remain undiagnosed. These people are at major risk of a sudden heart attack or stroke but are unlikely to be taking any action to reduce that deadly risk.

“The BHF has recognised the need to address the burden of high blood pressure and, as part of our current strategy, has set up a Blood Pressure Programme aimed at achieving better prevention, detection and control of the condition.

“We are also working with UK-wide partners, including Public Health England, to help those at greatest risk of high blood pressure get the support they need to understand and take control of their condition.”

Find out more about our work to tackle high blood pressure.