A 25 per cent increase in high blood pressure screening in 19 developing countries would reduce the number of cardiovascular disease (CVD) events and deaths that occur each year by up to 3 per cent in these countries. The preliminary data presented today at the World Congress of Cardiology are the first findings from a new report from Harvard that will be published later this year.
The study found that around 900 million people in developing countries have high blood pressure but that only one-third are aware of their disease. Moreover, only 100 million of these people receive treatment, while only 5 per cent of the total are controlled.
Against this backdrop, this study was designed to assess the cost-effectiveness of an intervention to increase screening by 25 per cent in developing countries using a non-lab screening tool to treat those with a systolic blood pressure of greater than 140 mmHg and CVD risk of greater than 20 per cent.
The study found that screening an additional 25 per cent of the population would lead to an increase of more than 10 per cent in the rate of appropriate treatment of hypertension in high-risk individuals. The intervention would lead to about a 1-3 per cent reduction in CVD events and deaths. Furthermore, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratios of these screening programs were found to be well below one times GDP per capita in the 19 developing countries assessed.
"Strategies to increase the screening for hypertension could lead to significant reductions in CVD deaths, at costs that are considered to be acceptable according to WHO recommendations," said Dr. Thomas Gaziano, assistant professor, Harvard School of Medicine.
CVD is the world's biggest killer, claiming 17.3 million lives each year. More than 80 per cent of CVD deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Projections suggest that CVD will remain the single leading cause of death, and by 2030 will be responsible for 23.6 million deaths each year.
Hypertension and cardiovascular disease
Hypertension (high blood pressure) is one of the major preventable risk factors for premature death from CVD worldwide. High blood pressure contributes to around half of all CVD and the risk of developing CVD doubles for every 10-point increase in diastolic blood pressure.
High blood pressure that is left untreated can greatly increase a person's risk of developing CVD. Treating raised blood pressure has been associated with a 35 per cent reduction in the risk of stroke and at least a 16 per cent reduction in the risk of myocardial infarction.
About the World Congress of Cardiology
The World Congress of Cardiology Scientific Sessions (WCC) is the official congress of the World Heart Federation and is held every two years. Through the Congress the World Heart Federation offers an international stage for the latest developments in science and public outreach in the field of cardiovascular health. The WCC places emphasis on the complementary nature of science and public outreach and strives to spread the message that through individual, community and patient-care interventions, the growing epidemic of cardiovascular diseases can be prevented. For more information, please visit www.worldcardiocongress.org; keep up with the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #WCC2012Dubai.
About the World Heart Federation
The World Heart Federation is dedicated to leading the global fight against heart disease and stroke with a focus on low- and middle-income countries via a united community of more than 200 member organizations. With its members, the World Heart Federation works to build global commitment to addressing cardiovascular health at the policy level, generates and exchanges ideas, shares best practice, advances scientific knowledge and promotes knowledge transfer to tackle cardiovascular disease - the world's number one killer. It is a growing membership organization that brings together the strength of medical societies and heart foundations from more than 100 countries. Through our collective efforts we can help people all over the world to lead longer and better heart-healthy lives. For more information, please visit www.worldheart.org; twitter.com/worldheartfed; facebook.com/worldheartfederation.