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World Hypertension Day

World Hypertension Day is an initiative of the World Hypertension League (WHL), an affiliated section of the International Society for Hypertension (ISH).

High blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension, or arterial hypertension, is a disease in which the blood pressure in the arteries is raised. Although it can be prevented, or managed by existing sufferers, it has no obvious symptoms so many people can be unknowing victims.

If untreated it can lead to serious conditions such as kidney failure, heart attack or stroke. Ultimately it can result in death, hence the need to raise awareness and develop a culture of regular blood pressure screening.

The prevention and control of hypertension is a massive undertaking. As with any other public heath campaigns it faces complex challenges, not least because of the number of people involved, the nationalities, and therefore the number of languages that resources have to be translated into, and the poverty levels of many countries in which high blood pressure is prevalent.

While the WHL understands these challenges, it also recognized that that much of the work being undertaken in this area was being done so in an uncoordinated manner. Hence, the World Hypertension Day was declared, educating people about the disease and providing facilities where the blood pressure measurement could be taken in a proper clinical setting.

Although celebrated on May 17 each year, hypertension awareness activities take place throughout the week, until the 24th. Educational events take place designed to raise awareness and prevent instances of high blood pressure.

Blood pressure screening facilities are made available which not only benefit the individual, but also allow the WHL to capture valuable data relating to the prevalence of the condition.

World Hypertension Day Theme

The first world hypertension day was launched on May 14, 2005 with the theme of “Awareness of high blood pressure”. Since then May 17 has been dedicated to the cause.

The 85 member countries of the WHL spread the message to communities within them. Not only do they spread awareness of hypertension, but also the serious implications on health, along with providing necessary information on detecting, preventing and treating non-communicable diseases (NCD).

They do this via a range of activities including coverage in newspapers, media and public forums, rallies, and participation from both politicians and popular public figures. Each of these is designed to achieve the goals of the World Hypertension League.

To spread awareness for the World Hypertension Day, the Niagara Falls will be lit up in blue and red at 10:00 Pm on May 16th, 2016.

Initially each year was given a specific theme to focus on. However in recent years, and until 2018, the theme will be “Know Your Numbers”. The initial themes are listed below:

  • 2005 Hypertension Awareness
  • 2006 Treat to Goal – Prevention of Hypertension
  • 2007 Healthy Blood Pressure through healthy diet
  • 2008 Measure blood pressure at home
  • 2009 Salt and High Blood Pressure: Two Silent Killers
  • 2010 Healthy Weight – Healthy Blood Pressure
  • 2011 Know Your Numbers, Target Your Blood Pressure
  • 2012 Healthy Lifestyle – Healthy Blood Pressure
  • 2013 Healthy Heart Beat-Healthy Blood Pressure

The World Hypertension League is not alone in this war against high blood pressure. They have successfully been able to motivate and involve many sectors and now partner with bodies such as professional societies, academia, government and non-governmental organization and the government itself. The more the number of participants in this cause, the better the impact of awareness will be.

This year’s aim is to bring in three million adults to check their blood pressure level and teach them how they can take precautions.

World Hypertension League Targets

According to the World Heart Federation 970 million people worldwide suffer from high blood pressure. About 640 million of these live in poverty stricken third world nations.

And the problem is predicted to get worse, with sufferers of hypertension rising to a staggering 1.56 billion in 2025.

In 2010 research data indicated that 9.4 million deaths were recorded worldwide due to increased blood pressure and a 2013 Global Burden of Disease Study reported that in that year alone the number had risen to around 10.3 million.

About 85% of these deaths occur in developing nations.

Based on the high number of deaths, the United Nations Global Health Summit on NCDs has emphasized the WHL’s mission and agreed to meet 9 health targets by 2025. The overall target is defined ahttp://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3699411/s reducing uncontrolled hypertension by 25% and salt consumption by 30%.

In order to meet this goal they will focus on the following:

  • Create national and international partnerships
  • Create strategic methods in prevention and control of hypertension
  • Enhance the environment by introducing healthy public policies, targeting mainly at reduction in salt consumption.
  • Translate knowledge and exchange of information.
  • Promote hypertension control based on sufficient resources.
  • Provide such resources to vulnerable population that will help them.

Know Your Numbers

Blood pressure readings take the form of two numbers. They are often communicated as, for example, 120/80. The first, or top number, is known as the systolic reading and measures the pressure in your arteries as your heart contracts.

The second, or bottom number, is known as the diastolic reading and measures the pressure in the arteries as the hearts rests between beats.

Healthy people should have their blood pressure goal at 120/80mmHg. However, those with a pre-existing medical condition could have a reading which would normally be considered abnormal, but with which their physician is happy. For this reason everyone is advised to check in with their physician so that they know the right goal for their blood pressure.

What Can You Do?

Help the World Hypertension League achieve its goal to target 3 million screens for high blood pressure. By being screened you will not only be helping the WHL achieve its aims, but you will also be reassuring yourself regarding your health. If your screening does detect any tendency towards high blood pressure, you can then take the necessary action to reduce it – potentially avoiding serious health issues or even death itself.

And why just keep it to yourself? If you know people who could benefit from this knowledge, please share this article with them and raise awareness further.

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