The condition behind 10.8M ‘avoidable’ deaths a year

Erica Carbajal

The World Health Organization on Sept. 19 published its first-ever report on high blood pressure — a condition behind 10.8 million avoidable deaths every year, according to the report.

Hypertension affects 1 in 3 adults globally, though most people with the condition don’t receive adequate treatment and are unaware they even have it, which is why it’s referred to as the “silent killer,” according to the report. From 1990 to 2019, the number of people with hypertension around the world doubled to 1.3 billion.

The WHO estimates that if countries scale up efforts to effectively treat hypertension, 76 million deaths could be prevented by 2050, in addition to 12 million strokes and 79 million heart attacks. The report also lays out recommendations to treat hypertension, noting low-cost generic medications are widely available.

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