World Hypertension Day 2018 (17 May): ‘Know Your Numbers’

17th May is celebrated as World Hypertension Day. This year, the theme is ‘Know your Numbers’, and refers to knowing one’s blood pressure values.



Background Information:

High Blood Pressure, medically known as Hypertension, is the major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and even eye diseases.

When the blood pressure exceeds a certain threshold it is called as high blood pressure. The only way to find out what your blood pressure is is to measure it using acceptable measuring devices.

Unlike many other diseases hypertension has no symptoms and hence it is called the Silent Killer.

If your blood pressure is below 120/80 (meaning less than 120 mmHg of systolic blood pressure and less than 80 mmHg of diastolic blood pressure) then you have a normal healthy blood pressure.

If your blood pressure is less than 140/90 but above 120/80 you are at a risk of becoming hypertensive.  

If your blood pressure is above 140/90 you need to consult a heath care provider to see if you have hypertension and need treatments to help to avoid heart disease and stroke.

Key Messages:

High blood pressure is the main risk factor to develop cardiovascular disease.

Approximately 4 in 10 adults older than 25 years have hypertension (~ 1 billion people). In many countries another 1 in 5 have prehypertension.

Around 50% of those with hypertension are unaware of their condition.  Of those who are aware,  50% of them do not take any action to control their blood pressure- either through lifestyle modification or medication.

This means 75% of the world’s hypertensive population are at risk and are potential candidates for heart disease, stroke or kidney disease or even sudden death.

50% of blood pressure related disease occurs in people with higher levels of blood pressure even within the normal range.

Hypertension now disproportionately impacts low and middle-income countries.


Risk factors:

About 50% of hypertension is attributable to Unhealthy diet:

  • About 30% related to increased salt consumption, and
  • about 20% related to low dietary potassium (low fruit and vegetables).

30% of hypertension is attributable to obesity;

20% of hypertension is related to Physical inactivity.

Excess alcohol and fat consumption also causes hypertension.

Being tobacco free is especially important for people with hypertension.

Prevention and Control:

  • Quit smoking if you are a smoker;
  • Reduce your body weight to a healthy level;
  • Become more active;
  • Improve your dietary habits to include more vegetables and fruits, reduce salt intake to no more than 5 grams per day, and cut down on the amount of fat intake – in other words daily healthy eating pattern; and
  • Meet with a health care provider to reassess your blood pressure status every year.


Useful Links:

Link to World Hypertension League’s (WHL) World Hypertension Day 2018 page:

Link to WHL’s general information regarding hypertension:

Link to WHL’s page containing details about hypertension at the global level:

Link to WHL video on how to measure blood pressure:

Link to WHL video on why blood pressure screening programs matter:

Link to PAHO’s World Hypertension Day 2018 page:



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