UK figures for hypertension now among lowest in world after drastic improvements
Britain now has some of the lowest rates of hypertension in the world after recording drastic improvements in a landmark 30-year study.
The biggest ever global study of high blood pressure shows the UK now has the eighth lowest rate of high blood pressure among women at 23%.
It also recorded the third highest decline in hypertension among men and the eighth highest in women.
The Lancet research collated data from 1,201 studies including 104 million participants in 184 countries from 1990 to 2019.
Rates of high blood pressure in British men fell from 42.5% to 30% and in women from 34% to 23%.
Britain now has the second lowest rates in Europe for men and the third lowest for women.
Senior author Prof Majid Ezzati, of Imperial College, said: “Nearly half a century after we started treating hypertension, which is easy to diagnose and treat with low-cost medicines, it is a public health failure that so many of the people with high blood pressure in the world are still not getting the treatment they need.”
High blood pressure still causes around 75,000 deaths a year in Britain. It accounts for one in eight GP appointments.
High blood pressure was defined as having systolic blood pressure of at least 140 mmHg, diastolic blood pressure of at least 90 mmHg, or taking medication for hypertension.
Researchers found that there was little change in the overall rate of hypertension in the world from 1990 to 2019, but the burden has shifted from wealthy nations to low and middle income countries.
The rate of hypertension has decreased in wealthy countries which now typically have some of the lowest rates.
Canada, Peru and Switzerland had among the lowest prevalence of hypertension in the world in 2019.
Some of the highest rates were seen in the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Paraguay for women and Hungary, Paraguay and Poland for men.
Prof Robert Storey, of Sheffield University, said: “Higher-income countries such as the UK have been able to take some steps to combat high blood pressure, including measures to reduce smoking.
“The ability of individuals to monitor their own blood pressure with home monitors and witness the beneficial effects of exercise and dietary restriction is a positive step forward.
“Low-to-middle income countries are now witnessing the effects of unhealthy lifestyle changes that have affected wealthier countries.”