Two-thirds of people with high blood pressure in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) are affected going without treatment, according to a new study led by researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in collaboration with colleagues from more than 40 institutions around the world, including several ministries of health.
The study examined household survey data for 1 million people living in 44 LMICs and found that less than half of those with high blood pressure are properly diagnosed. Among those with the condition, only 30% are treated and only 10% have the disease under control. These proportions, however, varied widely between countries, with some performing consistently better than others even after taking into account differences in economic development. The study will be published in The Lancet.
For the study, researchers used a cascade of care approach, which looked at the numbers of people with hypertension who had been screened, diagnosed, treated, and controlled, to determine how well the health systems of the various countries are treating people with hypertension.
Finally, they analyzed how many patients successfully controlled the disease with medication. "The low proportion of patients with high blood pressure getting the treatment they need, along with the growing number of patients with high blood pressure, suggests the very urgent need for population-level prevention, especially policies that get salt and trans fat out of the food supply, promote fruits and vegetables, reduce air pollution, and address excessive consumption of tobacco and alcohol," said Lindsay Jaacks, assistant professor of global health at Harvard Chan School.