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PRESS RELEASE — On World Hypertension Day, May 17, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) is calling on governments, health professionals, and all of society to do more to control blood pressure levels and help prevent heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and other serious health problems.
“Hypertension, which is the leading risk factor for illness and premature death from cardiovascular disease, affects some 250 million people in the Americas, and in most countries, rates of blood pressure control are unacceptably low,” said PAHO/Director Carissa F. Etienne.
People with hypertension are considered to have their condition under control if their blood pressure readings are below 140/90 mm Hg all day, 365 days a year.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, an estimated 80% of people with hypertension do not have good control. According to the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study, in Argentina, Brazil and Chile collectively, only 57% of people with hypertension are aware they have the condition, only 53% of those who are aware are under treatment, and only 30% of those under treatment have their hypertension controlled. Among all people with hypertension (including those who are unaware of their condition), the percent controlled is only 19%.
The countries of the Americas have collectively established the target of getting 35% of people with hypertension under control by 2019. To date, only three countries have reached that goal: Canada (68%), Cuba (36%) and the United States (52%). Other countries will have to make additional efforts to reach the target.
Pedro Orduñez, PAHO/WHO regional advisor on prevention and control of chronic diseases, noted that hypertension has no cure, but it can be prevented, delayed or controlled. “On World Hypertension Day, we want to encourage all adults in particular to check their blood pressure regularly, to eat more fruits and vegetables and less salt, to be physically active, to avoid alcohol and tobacco use, and to take blood pressure medication every day, if it has been prescribed.”
PAHO/WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are collaborating on a project that could contribute significantly to the achievement of a global target of reducing hypertension by 25% by 2025, which would prevent millions of deaths due to cardiovascular disease.
Barbados was the first country in the Americas to implement the project, known as the Global Standardized Hypertension Treatment (GSHT) project, and other countries in the region are planning to implement it in the near future.