- Only 44% of those with high blood pressure are diagnosed, the report reveals.
- In 2019, cardiovascular disease claimed the lives of 450,000 people.
- The report underscores Pakistan’s lack of guidelines for hypertension management.
In a groundbreaking report released today, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has disclosed that Pakistan is grappling with a silent but deadly health crisis—high blood pressure. The report, titled “The race against a silent killer,” reveals alarming statistics and highlights the urgent need for action to combat this widespread health issue.
According to the WHO, a staggering 30 million adults in Pakistan are currently afflicted by hypertension, also known as high blood pressure. What is concerning is that only 44% of these individuals have been officially diagnosed, indicating that a significant portion of the population remains unaware of their condition.
The report further sheds light on the treatment and control of hypertension in Pakistan. Only 35% of those diagnosed with high blood pressure are receiving treatment, and a mere 11% have their hypertension under control. This low control rate is a cause for serious concern, as unmanaged hypertension can lead to severe health complications, including stroke, heart attack, kidney damage, and more.
One of the contributing factors to this health crisis is the excessive consumption of salt. On average, each person in Pakistan consumes 9 grams of salt daily, a factor that can contribute to high blood pressure. Additionally, 21% of the population are smokers, further exacerbating the problem, with a higher percentage of male smokers than female smokers.
Physical inactivity is also a significant concern, with 34% of the Pakistani population reported as physically inactive. This lack of physical activity can contribute to the rising prevalence of hypertension.
Tragically, the report highlights that in 2019, around 450,000 people in Pakistan lost their lives due to cardiovascular diseases, with high blood pressure being the primary contributor, responsible for 58% of these deaths. The report underscores the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address this health crisis.
One of the striking findings of the report is that Pakistan lacks both treatment guidelines for hypertension management and a national target for blood pressure control. Additionally, there is no national target for salt consumption, and the country lacks a reliable system for collecting cause-specific mortality data routinely.
The WHO report offers a glimmer of hope by suggesting that with effective treatment, approximately 839,000 deaths could be averted by 2040, emphasizing the importance of early detection and treatment of hypertension.
On a global scale, the report reveals that hypertension is a growing concern, with the number of people living with the condition doubling between 1990 and 2019, affecting 1 in 3 adults worldwide. With nearly half of those with hypertension unaware of their condition, the need for increased awareness and access to treatment is evident.
High blood pressure is a silent but deadly health crisis in Pakistan and globally. Urgent action is required to raise awareness, improve diagnosis and treatment, and implement preventative measures to curb this growing epidemic. With simple lifestyle changes and low-cost medications, the burden of hypertension can be significantly reduced, saving lives and improving public health.
The WHO report was launched during the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, highlighting the importance of addressing health issues as part of sustainable development goals and achieving universal health coverage.