blood pressure
World blood pressure rises (2016)
01:12 - Source: CNN

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A global study found that 1.13 billion people had high blood pressure in 2015

The greatest burden is in low- and middle-income countries

CNN  — 

In 2015, there were 1.13 billion people living with high blood pressure worldwide, with the majority of them in low and middle-income countries.

The findings come from a new study published Tuesday in The Lancet, which found that the number of people affected by high blood pressure has almost doubled over the past 40 years.

In most countries, men were found to have higher blood pressure than women.

The study highlighted a stark contrast between where people are most affected, with high-income countries showing a sharp decline in blood pressure among their populations in recent decades, while low- and middle-income countries have seen numbers spike – particularly in South Asia and Africa.

“When you look at this globally, blood pressure is a condition of poverty, not affluence,” said Majit Ezzati, professor of global environmental health at Imperial College London, who led the analysis. “The relationship with national income is completely inverse.”

The difference was made more evident by that fact that half of the world’s adults with high blood pressure in 2015 were living in Asia.

The United States, Canada and South Korea had the lowest rates in the world, while the UK had the lowest proportion of people with raised blood pressure in Europe.

“In the high-income world … (rates) are coming down despite the aging and increasing population,” Ezzati said. “But in the population (in Asia), as the age goes up, the blood pressure tends to be higher.”

He adds that this is most likely down to differences between these populations in terms of healthy food options but also access to health services providing diagnosis and treatment.

The global highs and lows

An estimated 226 million people in China were found to have high blood pressure, along with 200 million in India. The top five countries for high blood pressure among men were all in Central and Eastern Europe: Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary and Slovenia. For women, the top five were all in Africa: Niger, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso and Somalia.

To reveal these findings, Ezzati collaborated with the World Health Organization as well as hundreds of scientists around the world to study changes in blood pressure in every country between 1975 and 2015.