Despite the rising prevalence of hypertension worldwide, the number of patients diagnosed with the disease remains low when compared with estimated prevalence, according to new findings from Kantar Health’s National Health and Wellness Survey (NHWS). The NHWS finds that diagnosis rates vary significantly from country to country and currently range from 74 percent of the estimated hypertensive population in the United States to 25 percent in China. The World Health Organization estimates that one in three people have hypertension worldwide, but because it is asymptomatic many patients are not aware of their condition and are not receiving a diagnosis.
The NHWS finds that less than one-third of patients in Asia and less than one-half of patients in the 5EU (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) who are estimated to have hypertension have been diagnosed. Diagnosis is highest in the United States at 74 percent. Once patients are diagnosed treatment rates are high, ranging from 72 percent of diagnosed patients in Brazil to 86 percent in Japan.
“Hypertension is often called ‘the silent killer’ because it is largely asymptomatic,” said Gina Isherwood, Ph.D., regional brand director at Kantar Health. “High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attacks, stroke, kidney failure and blindness, and it is both preventable and treatable. But many people with high blood pressure are not aware of their condition, do not see a physician, and therefore are not being treated, even though many low-cost treatments are available.”
Many people who do not currently have hypertension have a family history (e.g., hypertension, cardiovascular disease and diabetes) that increases their risk of developing this condition. Despite this risk many engage in unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol consumption, tobacco use and sedentary lifestyles.
“The risk of developing high blood pressure can be mitigated by making lifestyle changes such as eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly and not using tobacco products,” Dr. Isherwood said. “The fact that many of these high-risk patients are not making lifestyle changes that could lower their risk highlights that a gap remains in communicating the dangers of hypertension to patients.”