Hypertension is the theme for World Health Day 2013, which is celebrated every April 7th to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organization in 1948. Each year we choose a theme for the day that highlights a priority area of concern for global public health.
Hypertension is the leading risk factor for death worldwide and affects both men and women. Although 30% of the adult population suffers from blood pressure above 140/90 mmHg, a third of those who suffer it do not know they have this disease. One in three people being treated for hypertension fail to keep their blood pressure below 140/90. Available information in certain countries, including in the USA, reveals that, while high blood pressure is more common in men, from age 65 onwards a higher proportion of women suffer from it. An elevated number of male and female Afro descendants also have high blood pressure.
Hypertension increases the risk of myocardial infarction, stroke, and kidney failure. It can also cause blindness and heart failure. The risk of developing any of these complications is higher if hypertension is not controlled (ie, if it is not less than 140/90), and if other risk factors such as tobacco, obesity, and diabetes exist.
In the Americas, high blood pressure-related mortality is one of the ten leading causes of death in men and women.
Hypertension can be prevented by reducing salt intake, following a healthy balanced diet, avoiding the harmful use of alcohol, maintaining a physically active lifestyle, and a healthy body weight. It can be treated successfully if you follow the recommendations of your doctor and use safe medications. Several countries in the Americas have made progress in controlling hypertension and have achieved reductions in mortality from cardiovascular disease in the population.
How can you reduce hypertension?
The risk of hypertension can be reduced by:
- ingesting less salt
- maintaining a balanced diet
- avoiding the harmful use of alcohol
- exercising regularly
- maintaining a healthy weight
- avoiding tobacco use.
What are we looking for on WHD 2013?
The events of World Health Day 2013 aim to reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes. Its specific goals are to:
- promote awareness of the causes and consequences of hypertension;
- encourage people to change behavior that can cause hypertension;
- convince adults to control their blood pressure regularly;
- increase the number of health centers where blood pressure checks can be performed; and
- encourage national and local authorities to create environments that support healthy behaviors.