ISH response to new report setting out the devastating impact of hypertension and ways to stop it

19 September 2023: The World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with Resolve to Save Lives has released its first-ever report on the devastating global impact of high blood pressure, along with recommendations on the ways to win the race against this silent killer. 

The report – supported by the ISH – shows approximately 4 out of every 5 people with hypertension are not adequately treated, but if countries can scale up coverage, 76 million deaths could be averted between 2023 and 2050. 

The report was launched during the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly which addresses progress for the Sustainable Development Goals including health goals. 

Hypertension affects 1 in 3 adults worldwide. This common, deadly condition leads to stroke, heart attack, heart failure, kidney damage and many other health problems. 

But the prevention, early detection and effective management of hypertension are among the most cost-effective interventions in health care. 

Hypertension can easily be treated with safe, widely available, low-cost generic medications using programmes such as HEARTS. WHO’s HEARTS technical package for cardiovascular disease management in primary health care and the Guideline for the pharmacological treatment of hypertension in adults provide proven and practical steps to deliver effective hypertension care in primary health care settings.

Responding to the publication of the report, ISH President Professor Bryan Williams said: “The burden of hypertension and associated conditions around the world continues to rise – and this is incredibly frustrating, because we have very effective approaches to treatment and management of the disease which we know work and can be implemented at low cost. 

“We fully support this report from the World Health Organization and Resolve to Save Lives, and the evidence-based recommendations it sets out including around the accessibility of medicines and patient-centred care. We call on governments around the world to engage with this report.” 

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said: “Hypertension control programmes remain neglected, under-prioritized and vastly underfunded. Strengthening hypertension control must be part of every country’s journey towards universal health coverage, based on well-functioning, equitable and resilient health systems, built on a foundation of primary health care.” 

Michael R. Bloomberg, WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries, said: “Most heart attacks and strokes in the world today can be prevented with affordable, safe, accessible medicines and other interventions, such as sodium reduction. Treating hypertension through primary health care will save lives, while also saving billions of dollars a year.” 

Dr Tom Frieden, President and CEO, Resolve to Save Lives, said: “Every hour, more than 1 000 people die from strokes and heart attacks. Most of these deaths are caused by high blood pressure, and most could have been prevented. Good hypertension care is affordable, within reach, and strengthens primary health care. The challenge now is to go from “within reach” to ‘reached.’ This will require commitment of governments around the world.”

Read the full WHO announcement.