High blood pressure: key facts and interventions

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High blood pressure is preventable, and can be countered by reducing salt intake, eating a balanced diet, avoiding the harmful use of alcohol, taking regular physical activity, maintaining a healthy body weight and avoiding tobacco use. This presentation provides key facts about high blood pressure and how it can be managed.

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High blood pressure: key facts and interventions

  1. 1. What is high blood pressure?• A blood pressure reading above 130/80 mmHg is considered high. High blood pressure is commonly an asymptomatic condition, often known as “the silent killer”.• Blood pressure measurements indicate how strongly blood presses against arterial walls as it is pumped around the body by the heart.• Blood pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg) and is recorded in two readings, systolic over diastolic. Systolic refers to the pressure of the blood when the heart beats to pump it out. Diastolic refers to the pressure of the blood when the heart rests in between beats.
  2. 2. Key facts on high blood pressure• Affects one in three adults worldwide• Affects men more than women• Affects poorer populations more than others• Is implicated in 13% of deaths worldwide• Is identified in WHO’s Health 2020 policy as one of the WHO European Region’s major contributors to disease
  3. 3. Why high blood pressure is a public health concern• High blood pressure strains the arteries and heart raising the probability of heart attack, stroke and kidney disease.• High blood pressure can lead to hypertension.• Hypertension is diagnosed if readings on separate occasions consistently show blood pressure to be 140/90 mmHg or higher.• Hypertension is identified as the world’s most prevalent preventable disease in WHO’s Health 2020 policy.
  4. 4. Prevalence of the population with high blood pressure (in %) in the WHO European Region in 2008
  5. 5. Intervention before hypertension sets inGlobal health risks: mortality and burden of disease attributable to selected major risks. Geneva, WHO, 2009.
  6. 6. Risk factors for high blood pressure• A diet high in saturated fat• Excessive salt consumption• Overweight and obesity• A sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise• Alcohol consumption• A family history of high blood pressure• Being over 65 years of age• Co-morbidities such as diabetes
  7. 7. Manage high blood pressure by:• eating a healthy diet• reducing salt intake• exercising regularly• stopping smoking• reducing alcohol consumption• having regular blood pressure checks
  8. 8. The WHO responseThe WHO Health 2020 policy identifies high blood pressureas a major contributor to disease, and hypertension as theworld’s most prevalent preventable disease.High blood pressure is the theme of World Health Day2013, with a particular emphasis on reducing dietary saltintake.
  9. 9. WHO’s current European policyPriority interventions of the action plan fornoncommunicable diseases 2012-2016 include:• promotion of a healthy diet through marketing and fiscal measures• elimination of trans fats• salt reduction• cardio-metabolic risk reduction assessment and management• promotion of physical activity and mobility
  10. 10. Key interventions• Encourage regular blood pressure checks• Encourage patients to be aware of their individual risks• Establish effective tools for early identification, management and control• Promote physical activity, dietary improvement and salt reduction• Provide low-cost antihypertensive medication• Set target for mean blood pressure reduction levels across populations
  11. 11. www.euro.who.int/worldhealthday

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