World Hypertension Day 2017

World Hypertension Day 2017 ,May 17

Every year, 17 May is dedicated to World Hypertension Day (WHD). This is an initiative of the World Hypertension League (WHL), an affiliated section of the ISH.

The WHD was first inaugurated in May 2005 and has become an annual event ever since. The purpose of the WHD is to promote public awareness of hypertension and to encourage citizens of all countries to prevent and control this silent killer, the modern epidemic.

The theme for World Hypertension Day is   Your Numbers with a goal of increasing high blood pressure (BP) awareness in all populations around the world.


The World Health Organization attributes hypertension, or high blood pressure, as the leading cause of cardiovascular mortality. The World Hypertension League (WHL), an umbrella organization of 85 national hypertension societies and leagues, recognized that more than 50% of the hypertensive population worldwide are unaware of their condition. To address this problem, the WHL initiated a global awareness campaign on hypertension in 2005 and dedicated May 17 of each year as World Hypertension Day (WHD). Over the past three years, more national societies have been engaging in WHD and have been innovative in their activities to get the message to the public. In 2007, there was record participation from 47 member countries of the WHL. During the week of WHD, all these countries – in partnership with their local governments, professional societies, nongovernmental organizations and private industries – promoted hypertension awareness among the public through several media and public rallies. Using mass media such as Internet and television, the message reached more than 250 million people. As the momentum picks up year after year, the WHL is confident that almost all the estimated 1.5 billion people affected by elevated blood pressure can be reached. The success of WHD is due to the enthusiasm and voluntary action of multiple stakeholders from every member country.

Keywords: Activities, Awareness, Hypertension, Media, World Hypertension Day

Several surveys from many countries around the world pointed out that the public’s awareness of their blood pressure levels was very poor (19). Even in highly developed, resource-rich countries with high-quality health carse systems, such as Canada, awareness of hypertension was only 58% (8). As many of the developing countries transition from infectious to degenerative chronic diseases, the prevalence of hypertension is increasing (10). At the same time, public awareness of hypertension in these low- and middle-income countries is quite dismal (11). The 2002 World Health Report (12) stated that hypertension is the leading cause of death worldwide.

Epidemiological studies (1315) have clearly shown that hypertension is a ‘silent killer’, with no warning signs. Therefore, knowing that one’s blood pressure is elevated allows that individual to take some action to mitigate the rising blood pressure, thus preventing potential end-organ damage, including myocardial infarction, kidney failure and cerebrovascular stroke. There is, however, a continued myth among most of the world’s population – among both the well educated and the less educated – that not knowing the condition is ‘bliss’. On the contrary, a number of studies have shown that early diagnosis and treatment of hypertension leads to better quality of life and increased longevity.


The World Hypertension League (WHL), an umbrella organization of national hypertension societies and leagues with 85 countries as its members, initiated World Hypertension Day (WHD) in 2005. The objective of WHD is to communicate to the public the importance of hypertension and its serious medical complications, and to provide information on prevention, detection and treatment. The WHL launched its first WHD on May 14, 2005. Since 2006, the WHL has been dedicating May 17 of every year as WHD. Many of the member countries have embraced the idea and have been carrying out a number of activities in their respective countries to promote awareness of hypertension (16,17). Such activities included newspaper articles, media coverage, rallies, public forums and mass public physical activities, as well as involvement of politicians, policy makers and popular public figures.

Fast facts on hypertension

Here are some key points about hypertension. More detail and supporting information is in the body of this article.

Hypertension is defined as blood pressure higher than 140 over 90 mmHg (millimeters of mercury).

A diagnosis of hypertension may be made when one or both readings are high: systolic (the pressure as the heart pumps blood around the body), given first; or diastolic (pressure as the heart relaxes and refills with blood), given second.

Modern lifestyle factors are responsible for a growing burden of hypertension: physical inactivity, salt-rich diets with processed and fatty foods, and alcohol and tobacco use.

High blood pressure can also be secondary to other conditions – kidney disease, for example – and can be associated with some medications.

Hypertension itself does not cause symptoms but in the long-term leads to complications caused by narrowing of blood vessels.

Doctors diagnose high blood pressure over a number of visits using a sphygmomanometer, which involves applying an inflatable cuff to the upper arm.

Lifestyle measures are used first to treat high blood pressure, including salt restriction and other dietary changes, moderation of alcohol, and stress reduction.

One or more drugs from a number of different classes may be used for treatment.

What is hypertension (high blood pressure)?

Blood pressure is the force exerted by the blood against the walls of blood vessels, and the magnitude of this force depends on the cardiac output and the resistance of the blood vessels.4

The blood flowing inside vessels exerts a force against the walls – this is blood pressure.

More information on the biology and physics of normal blood pressure is available, along with details of how blood pressure is measured, what normal measurements look like, and how they change with age and exercise.

Hypertension is defined as having a blood pressure higher than 140 over 90 mmHg, with a consensus across medical guidelines.1,5

This means the systolic reading (the pressure as the heart pumps blood around the body) is over 140 mmHg (millimeters of mercury) and/or the diastolic reading (as the heart relaxes and refills with blood) is over 90 mmHg.

This threshold has been set to define hypertension for clinical convenience as patients experience benefits once they bring their blood pressure below this level.6

However, medical experts consider high blood pressure as having a continuous relationship to cardiovascular health.1,6 They believe that, to a point, the lower the blood pressure the better (down to levels of 115-110 mmHg systolic, and 75-70 mmHg diastolic).1

This view has led the American Heart Association (AHA), for example, to define the following ranges of blood pressure (in mmHg):

Normal blood pressure is below 120 systolic and below 80 diastolic

Prehypertension is 120-139 systolic or 80-89 diastolic

Stage 1 high blood pressure (hypertension) is 140-159 systolic or 90-99 diastolic

Stage 2 high blood pressure (hypertension) is 160 or higher systolic or 100 or higher diastolic

Hypertensive crisis (a medical emergency) is when blood pressure is above 180 systolic or above 110 diastolic.

Causes of hypertension

As acute stress, intense exercise and other factors can briefly elevate blood pressure even in people whose blood pressure is normal, a diagnosis of hypertension requires several readings showing high blood pressure over time. 7

Having high blood pressure for a short amount of time is a normal physiological response to many situations. However, a systolic reading of 180 mmHg or higher OR a diastolic reading of 110 mmHG or higher could be a sign of a hypertensive crisis that warrants immediate medical attention.

Anyone who gets such a reading when testing their own blood pressure should wait a couple of minutes and repeat the test. If the reading remains at that level or increases, seek emergency medical treatment (call an ambulance or have someone drive you to the hospital immediately.

Blood pressure does vary throughout the day, lowering during sleep and rising on awakening. It also rises in response to excitement, anxiety and physical activity.7

Blood pressure also increases steadily with age as arteries become stiffer and narrower due to plaque build-up. Vascular and heart disease also contribute to rising blood pressure in older adults, and a high systolic reading is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease in adults over 50 years old.

The disease burden of high blood pressure is a growing problem worldwide, in part because of a rapidly aging population. Other key contributors include lifestyle factors, such as:1

Physical inactivity

A salt-rich diet associated with processed and fatty foods

Alcohol and tobacco use.

Certain diseases and medications (as described below) can cause high blood pressure, and there are a number of general risk factors for hypertension, including:7

Obesity is a risk factor for high blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions.

Age – everyone is at greater risk of high blood pressure as they get older. Prevalence of hypertension is higher in people over 60 years of age

Race – African-American adults are at higher risk than white or Hispanic American adults

Size – being overweight or obese is a key risk factor for hypertension

Sex – males and females have different risk profiles. While lifetime risk is the same for everybody, men are more prone to hypertension at a younger age and women have a higher rate of hypertension at older ages

Lifestyle – greater intake of dietary salt, excessive alcohol, low dietary potassium, and physical inactivity all contribute to an increased risk of hypertension.

Other risk factors include a family history of the disease, and chronic, poorly managed stress.7

Specific causes of hypertension

High blood pressure that is not caused by another condition or disease is termed primary hypertension (or essential hypertension). This is more common than secondary hypertension, which has an identified cause such as chronic kidney disease.4

Primary hypertension is unlikely to have a specific cause but is instead usually a result of multiple factors, including blood plasma volume and activity of the renin-angiotensin system, the hormonal regulator of blood volume and pressure. Primary hypertension is also influenced by environmental factors, including lifestyle-related issues as outlined above.4

Secondary hypertension has specific causes – that is, it is secondary to another problem. One example, now thought to be one of the most common causes of treatment-resistant hypertension, is primary aldosteronism, a hormone disorder causing an imbalance between potassium and sodium levels, thus leading to high blood pressure.4

Primary aldosteronism may account for some 5-15% of cases of hypertension. It is important that physicians determine if the condition is caused by hyperplasia of the adrenal gland(s) or an adrenal gland tumor as treatments differ between the two.9

Common reversible causes are excessive intake of alcohol and use of oral contraceptives, which can cause a slight rise in blood pressure; hormone therapy for menopause is also 

Recent developments on causes of hypertension from MNT news

Food container plastics linked to hypertension

Chemicals supposed to be safe replacements for harmful chemicals in plastics are linked to hypertension and insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes, find scientists from NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

Gradual increase in salt intake linked to high blood pressure

Even a small difference in dietary salt consumption among people who do not have hypertension “may result in critical differences in individual blood pressure after several years,” conclude the authors of a Japanese study.

Easily stressed teens have increased hypertension risk later in life

A new study that followed 1.5 million teens through to adulthood investigates the role of early psychological parameters on the likelihood of developing hypertension.

Symptoms of hypertension

High blood pressure itself is usually asymptomatic, meaning that patients do not experience any direct symptoms of the condition. This is why hypertension is often referred to as “the silent killer,” as it can quietly causes damage to the cardiovascular system.4,7

Hypertension can also lead to problems in the organs affected by high blood pressure. Long-term hypertension can cause complications through arteriosclerosis, where the formation of plaques results in narrowing of blood vessels.

The complications associated with hypertension-related arteriosclerosis can include:4,7

An enlarged or weakened heart, to a point where it may fail to pump enough blood (heart failure)

Aneurysm – an abnormal bulge in the wall of an artery (which can burst, causing severe bleeding and, in some cases, death)

Blood vessel narrowing – in the kidneys this can lead to possible kidney failure; in the heart, brain and legs, this can lead to heart attack, stroke or the need for amputation, respectively

Blood vessels in the eyes my rupture or bleed, leading to vision problems or blindness (hypertensive retinopathies – classified by worsening grades one through four).

Diagnosis and tests for hypertension

Diagnosis of hypertension is made by measuring blood pressure over a number of clinic visits, using a sphygmomamometer – the familiar upper-arm cuff device. An isolated high reading is not taken as proof of hypertension. Rather, diagnosis can be made after elevated readings are taken on at least three separate days.4

Measurements may be taken at the doctor’s office while a patient is seated and after standing; this helps the doctor to look for orthostatic or postural hypotension.6

Blood pressure is measured by sphygmomanometry.

The reliability of blood pressure readings may be improved by having a patient or someone else take a series of measurements outside the doctor’s office using standardized devices.6

We have more detailed information about measuring blood pressure.

In addition to measuring blood pressure using sphygmomanometry, a doctor will take a history (ask questions, such as about cardiovascular problems) and do a physical examination before diagnosing hypertension.4

These questions and additional tests can help to identify the cause of high blood pressure and determine whether there have been any complications. Such tests may include urine tests, kidney ultrasound imaging, blood tests, an electrocardiogram (ECG) and/or an echocardiograph.


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