Universities Study Finds Two-Third of Global South Hypertension Sufferers Missing Treatment

Doctor cardiologist measuring blood pressure of male patient

An American, British and German-led university research team studied the health of one million people in developing to emerging countries and uncovered that nearly 70% of the people afflicted with high blood pressure will go without treatment.

The team from the University of Birmingham, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the University of Göttingen and the Medical Faculty of Heidelberg, studied the health data for one million people in developing and emerging south, recently published their findings in The Lancet reports the University of Birmingham. 

The Findings

The team found that less than 50% of people with high blood pressure are even diagnosed with either high blood pressure or hypertension. Of those that are only 30% are treated and only 10% have the disease under control. The study findings were published in The Lancet titled The state of hypertension care in 44 low-and middle-income countries: a cross-sectional study of individual-level nationally representative data from 1.1. adults.

The Study Methodology

The team analyzed the healthcare of hypertension in 44 countries. Using a cascade of care approach, which looked at the numbers of people with hypertension who had been screened, diagnosed, treated, and controlled, they determined how well the health systems of the various countries are treating people with hypertension. 

The group carried out its research using surveys including the World Health Organization’s STEPS survey—which uses a uniform approach to obtain data on established risk.

Investigator Comment

Justine Davies, Professor of Global Health at the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Applied Health Research, commented “Hypertension or high blood pressure, is known from other studies to be prevalent in lower and middle-income countries. Our research adds by showing that care in these countries is not able to match the number of people who need treatment. This is a particular problem as without treatment there is a considerable risk of complications—including stroke and death.”

Dr. Mary Mayige, Principal Research Scientist at the National Institute for Medical Research in Tanzania and co-author of the study noted “There is an urgent need to strengthen the healthcare system for chronic disease care in low-income countries. This includes improving information systems and increased financing to ensure universal access across the continuum from preventative interventions to tertiary healthcare costs.”

Not All Bad News

Davies did emphasize that a number of countries that are more proactive than many assumed—they include Costa Rica, Bangladesh, Brazil, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan and Peru—and are experiencing better results.

Global Crisis

Worldwide, raised blood pressure is estimated to cause 7.5 million deaths, about 12.8% of the total of all deaths. This accounts for 57 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYS) or 3.7% of total DALYS. Raised blood pressure is a major risk factor for coronary heart disease and ischemic as well as a hemorrhagic stroke. Blood pressure levels have been shown to be positively and continuously related to the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.