Each year on April 7th, the World Health Organization celebrates the anniversary of its founding with World Health Day. The theme for this year’s celebration is high blood pressure — an unappreciated, yet significant global public health epidemic. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, contributes to nine million deaths every year. It is a key risk factor for cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke, which is the number one cause of death globally: more people die annually from cardiovascular disease than from any other cause. (data: World Health Organization)
Most people would be surprised to learn that one in three adults worldwide has high blood pressure. Moreover, it is not a condition relegated to the wealthy. Prevalence of high blood pressure is highest in some low-income countries in Africa, with over 40 percent of adults estimated to be hypertensive in many African countries.