Worldwide, one in 3 adults has high blood pressure, but different countries show different patterns in the number of people with hypertension.
Three recent studies, published in the Lancet, Circulation (the journal of the American Heart Association) and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) looked at worldwide trends in blood pressure, awareness of hypertension and how well it is treated and controlled.
These studies confirm that high blood pressure remains the leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease (heart attack or stroke) and causes more than 7 million deaths worldwide every year.
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Blood pressure statistics
The study in the Lancet looked at data from 1479 studies that measured the blood pressures of over 19 million people across 200 countries. This showed that, worldwide, average blood pressures for adults were 127/78.7 mmHg for men, and 122.3/76.7 mmHg for women.
These figures are within the normal range which might suggest that the problem of hypertension is under control. But an average is only an average, and some people will have blood pressures that are significantly higher, and some that are significantly lower.
Scarily, the number of people with raised blood pressure in the world has increased by 90% over the four decades between 1975 and 2015. Overall, during 2015, around one in four men (24.1%) and one in five women (20.1%) over the age of 18 years, had a raised blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or higher.
This means that hypertension affects an estimated 1.13 billion people across the globe – and these figures include people whose high blood pressure is inadequately controlled despite medication.
Average Blood Pressure Men
% Men with high blood pressure
Average Blood Pressure Women
% Women with high blood pressure
|Slovenia||137.5/81.0 mmHg||35.8%||127.0/78.9 mmHg||24.9%|
|Niger||136.0/80.8 mmHg||31.3%||133.4/81.8 mmHg||35.8%|
|Brazil||133.3/78.8 mmHg||26.7%||124.3/76.2 mmHg||19.9%|
|Russia||130.3/82.2 mmHg||32.6%||122.7/78.4 mmHg||22.3%|
|Ireland||128.7/77.8 mmHg||22.8%||118.3/75.5 mmHg||16.5%|
|Mexico||127.5/78.4 mmHg||22.3%||123.1/75.4 mmHg||17.3%|
|India||127.3/80.5 mmHg||26.6%||124.3/79.1 mmHg||24.7%|
|South Africa||127.0/81.6 mmHg||27.4%||123.1/82.0 mmHg||26.1%|
|China||126.1/78.5 mmHg||21.5%||121.5/75.9 mmHg||16.8%|
|United Kingdom||125.9/71.7 mmHg||17.9%||117.2/70.0 mmHg||13.3%|
|New Zealand||126.1/74.5 mmHg||19.3%||116.9/72.0 mmHg||13.3%|
|Japan||125.6/78.1 mmHg||22.5%||116.8/72.1 mmHg||12.6%|
|Australia||123.9/73.5 mmHg||18.0%||115.5/70.5 mmHg||12.3%|
|United States||123.6/73.6 mmHg||15.3%||117.3/71.1 mmHg||10.5%|
|Canada||118.4/73.5 mmHg||15.6%||111.3/69.9 mmHg||10.8%|
Data extracted from the interactive maps for 200 countries at ncdrisc.org.
Blood pressure stats
Men generally have higher blood pressure than women in most countries, and blood pressures are highest in the Baltic and East and West African countries, where average systolic pressure (upper reading) is 135 mmHg for women and 138 mmHg for men.
In contrast, people living in South Korea, Cambodia, Australia, Canada and USA have some of the lowest blood pressures at less than 125 mmHg for men and below 120 mmHg for women.
Among high income countries, blood pressures are highest in Portugal, Finland and Norway
When average blood pressures in different countries were analysed against diet and lifestyle habits, the main factors associated with blood pressure trends are consumption of salt, fruit and vegetables, how many people are overweight or obese, and how easy it is for people to access antihypertensive drugs and take them.
High blood pressure awareness
The study from Circulation found that less than half (46.5%) of adults with hypertension were aware of their condition, only 36.9% were receiving blood pressure treatment, and only 13.8% had their high blood pressure controlled worldwide.
Of those who are taking antihypertensive medication, an estimated 28.4% remain poorly controlled – in many cases because they do not take their medicines regularly, every day, as prescribed.
If your blood pressure remains high, despite treatment, please see your doctor. Natural remedies for high blood pressure can also support your medication in improving your blood pressure control.
If your blood pressure is raised, self-monitoring is vital to maintaining good control.
Click here for advice on choosing a blood pressure monitor to use at home.
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