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By Carien Grobler

Deputy Digital Editor


Hypertension: Number of people grappling with the silent killer skyrockets

This surge in hypertension cases has had profound health ramifications, contributing to a staggering 10.8 million preventable deaths annually and robbing individuals of 235 million years of healthy living.


Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, isn’t just a number on a blood pressure monitor; it’s a serious medical condition with far-reaching consequences. This silent killer significantly heightens the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney issues, and a host of other ailments.

A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) states it’s a key player in triggering heart attacks, heart failure, and strokes, collectively known as cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Unchecked hypertension can inflict lifelong complications and sudden cardiovascular crises, making its control imperative.

Defined as having a systolic blood pressure (SBP) equal to or exceeding 140 mmHg or a diastolic blood pressure (DBP) equal to or surpassing 90 mmHg, hypertension doesn’t discriminate. While age-related factors may contribute to elevated blood pressure, lifestyle choices play a pivotal role.

Poor dietary habits, characterized by excessive sodium intake and insufficient potassium, along with factors like obesity, alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and sedentary living, fuel the hypertension epidemic.

The key to combating hypertension lies in early detection, prompt treatment, and lifestyle adjustments targeting these behavioral risk factors. Effective management entails keeping blood pressure levels below the 140/90 mmHg threshold through a combination of medication and lifestyle modifications.

By adopting healthier habits and adhering to prescribed treatments, individuals can wrestle control from this silent assailant and safeguard their long-term health.

Hypertension significantly heightens the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney issues, and a host of other ailments. Picture: iStock

Hypertension: A looming health crisis

The World Health Organization’s Global Report on Hypertension in 2023 paints a sobering picture of the escalating prevalence of high blood pressure worldwide. Over the past three decades, the number of adults grappling with hypertension has nearly doubled, skyrocketing from 650 million in 1990 to a staggering 1.3 billion by 2019.

This surge in hypertension cases has had profound health ramifications, contributing to a staggering 10.8 million preventable deaths annually and robbing individuals of 235 million years of healthy living.

Alarmingly, nearly one in three adults globally is afflicted with hypertension, with males exhibiting a slightly higher prevalence than females in the under-50 age group. However, beyond the age of 50, the prevalence skyrockets to nearly 49%, ensnaring one out of every two individuals, regardless of gender.

Despite the critical importance of early diagnosis and prompt treatment, a staggering 46% of individuals with hypertension remain undiagnosed. Even among those who receive a diagnosis, a mere 42% are on treatment, with less than half of them effectively managing their blood pressure. This stark reality underscores significant gaps in diagnosis and treatment coverage, with low-income countries bearing the brunt of this health crisis.

As hypertension continues its relentless march across the globe, urgent and concerted efforts are needed to bridge these diagnostic and treatment gaps, ensuring that individuals receive the timely interventions they need to thwart this silent killer and safeguard their health and well-being.

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