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World Hypertension Day Thursday 17 May 2007 Take action now to prevent global high blood pressure epidemic, says Blood Pressure Association

We are on the brink of a global epidemic of high blood pressure, the major cause of stroke, heart attacks and heart failure.

According to a new report*, an increase in incidence of up to 60% worldwide is predicted over the next two decades.

Over 16 million people in the UK already have high blood pressure and because it has very few symptoms, a massive one in three don’t realise they have the condition. There are five million people in the UK who are currently treated for the condition but who have still not reached the correct blood pressure target.

UK charity The Blood Pressure Association says this is preventable and is urging everyone in the UK to know their numbers and to take action now to lower their blood pressure and reduce their risk of serious illness, death and disability.

Professor Graham Macgreogr, Chairman of the Blood Pressure Association and Professor of Cardiovacular Medicine at St George’s Hopsital, Tooting, said: "High blood pressure is the most important cause of death and disability through stroke, heart attack and heart failure. Modern diet and a lack of exercise are leading to a dramatic rise in cases of hypertension. But this is preventable, if everyone takes the right action now."

The BPA’s advice to everyone is by simply eating at least seven portions of fruit and vegetables or by eating less than 6g (one teaspoon) of salt a day, we can lower our blood pressure. Doing at least half an hour of exercise five times a week, keeping to the right weight for our height and drinking in moderation are also ways to keep healthy and lower the risk of suffering a stroke or a heart attack.

Anyone can book an appointment at their doctor’s surgery or pop into a high street pharmacy to have a blood pressure check. The whole process is quick, easy and painless.

Professor MacGregor added: "If your blood pressure is consistently at or above 140 over 90, the level used to diagnose high blood pressure, then you will need to make changes to your lifestyle and may also need medication to get your blood pressure controlled.

"Even if you do not have high blood pressure now, you could still be at risk. For example, someone with a blood pressure of 135 over 85 is twice as likely to have a stroke or develop heart disease than someone with a level at 115 over 75, even though neither has a diagnosis of high blood pressure. So everyone should be looking at making lifestyle changes to help lower their numbers and prevent this silent killer."

Notes to Editors:

1. *The report’s authors, Dr Panos Kanavos, The London School of Economics, London, UK, Dr Jan Ostergren, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden and Dr Michael Weber, State University New York Downstate Medical College, New York, USA are global leaders in health economics and treating high blood pressure respectively.

2. The Blood Pressure Association, the UK’s blood pressure charity, provides information and support to people with high blood pressure. For a free information pack call 0870 770 or visit

3. Professor Graham MacGregor is Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Honorary Consultant Physician at the Blood Pressure Unit, Department of Physiological Medicine at St George's Hospital Medical School in London. Professor MacGregor received his medical training at Cambridge University. He is Chairman of the Blood Pressure Association and recently served as President of the British Hypertension Society. He is also Chairman of CASH (Consensus Action on Salt and Health), which has been working since 1996 to reduce the salt concentration of all processed foods and increase public awareness surrounding salt and its effects on your health. Professor MacGregor has authored and co-authored numerous articles for many scientific journals

For more information or to arrange an interview on Thursday 17 May, please contact Sue Massey or Anne-Marie Devaney on Wednesday 16 May at the BPA’s Press Office on 020 8772 4984/4993.

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