World Hypertension Day: Know Your Numbers

May 17 is World Hypertension Day. It's important that the general population be aware of the risks of this silent disease.
World Hypertension Day: Know Your Numbers

Last update: 24 October, 2021

World Hypertension Day is commemorated every May 17. The aim of the day is to prevent the onset of the disease by promoting good lifestyle habits.

Early diagnosis of the disorder is also important, which is why the event encourages frequent blood pressure readings, with the slogan “know your numbers”. This has been the leitmotif of World Hypertension Day for at least five years.

The disease is a cardiovascular risk factor because it’s behind other illnesses that ultimately lead to sequelae or death. These include acute myocardial infarction and stroke.

As we shall see, it’s a very frequent pathology, and World Hypertension Day is a key opportunity to detect and attack high blood pressure values in time. The truth is that many lives can be saved by acting with precision in this field.

High blood pressure in the world

According to estimates, about 17 million people die every year from cardiovascular diseases. This represents almost 30% of all deaths worldwide.

If we disaggregate deaths due to cardiovascular causes by risk factors, we’ll see that more than 9 million of these deaths are linked to arterial hypertension. In other words, more than 50% of cardiovascular deaths occur in hypertensive patients.

Among adults over 25 years of age, 40% are hypertensive. What’s more, the higher the age analysis, the more cases are recorded. The world’s most affected region is Africa.

World Hypertension Day serves to raise awareness among those who think they’re healthy but are hiding high blood pressure figures. Of all people with hypertension, one-third don’t know that they’re hypertensive, and those who do know that they’re hypertensive fail to achieve acceptable control in up to 50% of cases.

too much salt
Hypertension is one of the world’s most prevalent diseases.

World Hypertension Day reveals a silent disease

Arterial hypertension acts and hurts the body silently. Therefore, as we’ve already mentioned, there are many people who are unaware of their hypertensive condition and continue with their unhealthy habits.

One of the problems is that the disease doesn’t produce symptoms. Although there are people who report suffering from headaches due to arterial hypertension, the truth is that the symptom responds to other causes, but not directly to hypertension.

In any case, when a patient sees a doctor for a headache, for example, it’s good medical practice to take blood pressure readings. This is because there’s a high probability of detecting that the person’s unaware of their hypertensive condition.

World Hypertension Day advocates for awareness of the numbers so that high blood pressure doesn’t go unnoticed. The consequences are serious, and its silent status makes it even more dangerous.

The consequences of high blood pressure

A blood pressure monitor and a red plastic heart.
The heart is one of the organs that high blood pressure numbers affect the most.

Arterial hypertension has target organs where it exerts the greatest damage. It’s these tissues that ultimately trigger the symptoms and disastrous health consequences. With that in mind, the organs high blood pressure affects the most are the:

  • Heart: First of all, the coronary arteries are injured by high blood pressure and lead to the possibility of acute myocardial infarction, or angina pectoris.
  • Brain: Strokes often occur in hypertensive individuals. An artery may become progressively blocked, or rupture from a hypertensive spike. The sequelae of this event can be disastrous for a person’s quality of life.
  • Peripheral arteries: The circulation of the limbs also suffers from high blood pressure. The inner lining of the arteries is damaged and becomes clogged by fat and platelets. In the long run, especially the legs suffer from a lack of oxygen.
  • Kidneys: The underlying mechanism that explains renal failure in hypertensive patients is the slow destruction of the arteries responsible for renal exchange. It’s also a vascular problem.
  • Eye: Finally, the retina is the organ most affected by arterial hypertension within the eyeball. Retinopathy is a particularly dangerous situation if the patient is also diabetic.

The importance of knowing your numbers

The World Hypertension Day campaign is based on encouraging people to know their numbers because prevention relies on that knowledge. In other words, if people with hypertension know that they’re hypertensive, they have more tools to change their lifestyle.

In any case, even if you don’t suffer from the disease, you can protect your heart by eating a balanced diet, exercising, reducing salt, and avoiding stress.

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