294 million people living with hypertension in South-East Asia: WHO

New Delhi: An estimated 294 million people are living with hypertension in the South-East Asia region, including India, said Saima Wazed, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia on Thursday.

World Hypertension Day, observed on May 17 every year, “aims to increase awareness of this silent killer, and galvanise global action to combat high blood pressure”. This year, the theme is a call to ‘Measure Your Blood Pressure Accurately, Control It, Live Longer’.

Stressing the importance of “early detection and control,” she noted that half of people with hypertension are unaware of it.

“Among adults with hypertension, half are unaware they have it, and nearly 1 in 6 do not have their blood pressure under control.

“Uncontrolled, it can lead to heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, and early death,” the Regional Director said.

The key risk factors for its rising prevalence include “high intake of salt, tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, stress, and air pollution”.

While lamenting the “limited access to affordable healthcare services for hypertension” in the region, she said that countries are implementing evidence-based strategies.

The trends, she said, indicate a decline in tobacco use, and in exposure to household air pollution.

“Notably, four countries have initiated measures to eliminate trans-fatty acids from their national food supply chains. Two countries have implemented standards for labelling and marketing to give consumers the information needed to make healthier dietary choices,” she said.

Further, several countries have also established national targets to improve hypertension and diabetes management within primary healthcare settings.

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