Hypertension: It’s not just a rich men’s problem…

A PHS 795 student does something excellent — corrects an incorrectly held impression by observing data. They write:

I came across this article a while ago on a recent study – saying that more than 1 billion people are living with high blood pressure. Since the world has 7 billion, about 14% of the entire population! While I have had a(n incorrect…) perception that high blood pressure was more of a rich men’s problem, this latest study suggests that it is a condition of poverty, showing a completely inverse relationship with national income. On top of the well-known factors (e.g. high levels of salt and potassium in diet, lead exposure and pollution, lack of diagnosis and treatments), children who are undernourished are more likely to have higher blood pressure as they grow older. The researchers suggest that the global community take it as a condition of poverty – especially focus on the intake of healthy calories and not just enough calories! I have a mixed feeling of ‘relief’ that we have discovered a problem to be resolved for global health improvement as well as ‘frustration’ that we have ANOTHER problem on the endless list…..
http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/15/health/high-blood-pressure-global-statistics/

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One thought on “Hypertension: It’s not just a rich men’s problem…

  1. The idea that hypertension is a rich man’s disease is a common misconception. This new finding about global hypertension disproportionately affecting low and middle income countries is similar to the Whitehall study that found that cardiovascular disease mostly affected lower and middle income employees. This was surprising to the researchers at the time, who also thought that wealthier employees who ate a rich diet and had high stress jobs would be most at risk. However, the risk for hypertension and cardiovascular disease seems to be most strong for poor people suddenly exposed to the unhealthy diet and lifestyle associated with affluence. People who grew up malnourished in relative or absolute poverty, whether in the UK for the Whitehall study or in Asia for this new global study, who are suddenly exposed to a diet high in fat and processed carbohydrates due to exposure to Western culture will have poor health outcomes. Drawing from the Whitehall study again, the poor outcomes may not be solely attributed to diet and lifestyle. There may be social determinants from stress and inequality coming in to play.

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