According to the World Health Organization (WHO), high blood pressure (140/90 mm Hg or higher) affects 1.13 billion people worldwide.1 High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for premature mortality, increasing the likelihood of coronary heart disease and stroke. High blood pressure also contributes to rates of heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, kidney impairment, retinal hemorrhage, and visual impairment.
The WHO estimates that 20% of women and 24% of men have high blood pressure globally.1 Their most recent estimates from 2015 indicate that 15.3% of males and 10.5% of females in the US have high blood pressure. Countries with the highest rates of high blood pressure in 2015 were Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, and Slovenia (for men), and Niger, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Somalia (for women).
Prevalence rates vary considerably depending on the techniques used to measure blood pressure and the sampling methods employed. According to the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Hypertension Guidelines, for example, the overall prevalence of hypertension in the US was estimated at 46% in 2017.2 These guidelines lowered the threshold for diagnosing hypertension in the US to 130/80 mm Hg.
In 2016, the Global Burden of Disease, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study reported on worldwide exposure to specific risk factors and estimated the resulting burden of disease.3 High systolic blood pressure is considered one of the top three risk factors contributing to global disability, along with smoking and low birthweight for men and high body mass index and high fasting blood glucose for women.
Globally, the number of people with high blood pressure has increased from 594 million in 1975 to 1.13 billion in 2015, primarily due to population growth and the aging of the world population.4 In the past four decades, the prevalence of high blood pressure has generally decreased in high-income countries and increased in low- to middle-income countries particularly in south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Blood pressure has been consistently high in central and eastern Europe during the same 40 year period.
- World Health Organization. WHO Global Health Observatory Data - Raised blood pressure. http://www.who.int/gho/ncd/risk_factors/blood_pressure_prevalence/en/. Accessed October 15, 2018.
- Whelton PK, Carey RM, Aronow WS, et al. 2017 ACC/AHA/AAPA/ABC/ACPM/AGS/APhA/ASH/ASPC/NMA/PCNA Guideline for the prevention, detection, evaluation, and management of high blood pressure in adults: executive summary: a report of the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association Task F. J Am Coll Cardiol 2018; 71 (19): e127-e248.
- Gakidou E, Afshin A, Abajobir AA, et al. Global, regional, and national comparative risk assessment of 84 behavioural, environmental and occupational, and metabolic risks or clusters of risks, 1990-2016: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2016. Lancet 2017; 390 (10100): 1345-1422.
- Zhou B, Bentham J, Di Cesare M, et al. Worldwide trends in blood pressure from 1975 to 2015: a pooled analysis of 1479 population-based measurement studies with 19.1 million participants. Lancet 2017; 389 (10064): 37-55.