MAPPED: How does UK’s high blood pressure rate compare with Europe?

High blood pressure, or hypertension, affected about 15 per cent of people in the UK, aged 18 or over, in 2014, a report has revealed.

That’s the lowest rate of high blood pressure in all 47 studied member countries of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC), an organisation run by cardiovascular healthcare professionals.

The average rate of hypertension was 24.2 per cent across all of the countries, with Estonia having the highest prevalence of high blood pressure, at 31.7 per cent.

But, despite the low rates of hypertension in the UK, it has the highest prevalence of adult obesity in men (26.9 per cent of people), and the second highest in women (29.2 per cent of people).

“Heart disease still remains the leading cause of death for middle income countries,” said lead author of the report, Dr Adam Timmis, from Barts Health Centre, Queen Mary University London.

“Declines in high-income countries mean that cancer deaths have now become more common there.

“But, this downward trend for high-income countries is being threatened by the emerging obesity epidemic that is seeing rates of diabetes increase almost everywhere.”

The UK, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, and Israel made up the top five countries with the lowest rates of high blood pressure, according to data from the World Health Organisation.

Those with the highest prevalence of hypertension were Ukraine, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Moldova, and Estonia.

Overall, the condition was more prevalent in “middle income countries”, said the researchers from the ESC.

That also stretched to heart disease deaths, where 50 per cent of all deaths were caused by heart disease in many middle income countries, compared to less than 30 per cent in higher income countries.

“Interestingly, the figures show that heart disease is as much of a problem for women as for men, as we see that more are dying than before,” added Timmis.

“This is especially the case for younger women, and these deaths are largely preventable through lifestyle changes.”

Having high blood pressure increases the risk of developing heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, and vascular dementia, according to the NHS.

The condition could be caused by smoking, sleep deprivation, obesity, drinking large amounts of alcohol, and having a family history of hypertension.

Lower blood pressure by exercising regularly, cutting back on the amount of salt in the diet, and by trying to get at least six hours of sleep a night.

Medications

High blood pressure accounts for 12 per cent of visits to GPs in England.



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