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High Blood Pressure Causes Millions of Premature Deaths

Prevention and treatment strategies shouldn't be restricted to people with hypertension

FRIDAY, May 2 (HealthDay News) -- There are 7.6 million premature deaths worldwide each year attributable to high blood pressure, and half of all strokes and cases of ischemic heart disease are attributable to the condition, according to a report published in the May 3 issue of The Lancet.

Carlene M.M. Lawes, Ph.D., of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and colleagues analyzed 2001 data on population groups categorized by age (at least 30 years), sex and World Bank region. They calculated the worldwide burden of deaths and disability-adjusted life years associated with at least 115 mm Hg systolic blood pressure.

Premature deaths associated with high blood pressure account for 13.5 percent of the global total, the researchers report. It also caused 92 million disability-adjusted life years (6 percent of the total), with 80 percent of the burden in low-income and middle-income countries, and over half of cases among those aged 45 to 69 years. The condition was the cause of 54 percent of strokes and 47 percent of ischemic heart disease, the report indicates. While hypertension accounted for approximately half of the burden, lesser degrees of high blood pressure accounted for the rest.

"Prevention and treatment strategies restricted to individuals with hypertension will miss much blood-pressure-related disease," the authors write. "The optimum mix of interventions…requires detailed cost-utility analyses, and the societal benefits are dependent on the costs of these interventions and the costs of untreated high blood pressure."

One co-author has minority shares in Iusero, which is developing blood pressure-lowering implants, and has received grants and consulted for companies in the area of blood pressure-lowering drugs.

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