A major study has found that there are as many as 1.13 billion people suffering from high blood pressure worldwide, with majority of them living in low and middle-income countries.
According to the study published in The Lancet, the number of people affected by high blood pressure has almost doubled in 40 years.
It said that the problem has dropped sharply in rich countries – possibly due to healthier diets and lifestyles – but increased in poor ones.
Based on the study, in most the countries, men were found to have higher blood pressure than women.
It found that African and South Asian countries saw significant increase in number of people affected by high blood pressure
More than half of the world’s adults with high blood pressure in 2015 lived in Asia. China had 226 million suffering from the problem while India had 200 million.
Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure puts extra strain on the blood vessels and major organs such as heart, brain and kidneys. It is the top cause of cardiovascular disease which leads to strokes and heart attacks and is estimated to cause 7.5 million deaths annually worldwide.
“High blood pressure is no longer related to affluence – as it was in 1975 – but is now a major health issue linked with poverty,” said Majid Ezzati, a professor at Imperial College London’s school of public health.
According to the researchers, South Korea, the United States and Canada had the lowest hypertension rates in the world. In Europe, Britain was considered to have least number of sufferers.
High blood pressure is defined as someone having systolic pressure at or above 140 and a diastolic pressure at or above 90. Systolic pressure is the force with which the heart pumps blood into the blood vessels while diastolic pressure measures the resistance to the blood flow in the body’s blood vessels.
The problem is caused due to a number of factors including having a diet high in salt and low in fruit and vegetables. Lack of exercise is also a factor.