World Hypertension Day is a day designated and initiated by The World Hypertension League (WHL), which is itself an umbrella to organizations of 85 national hypertension societies and leagues. The day was initiated to increase the awareness of hypertension. This was especially important because of the lack of appropriate knowledge among hypertensive patients. The WHL launched its first WHD on May 14, 2005. Since 2006, the WHL has been dedicating May 17 of every year as WHD.
Hypertension (HTN or HT),is also known as high blood pressure (HBP), and is a long term medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is persistently elevated. Short term high blood pressure does not usually cause symptoms however Long term high blood pressure is a major risk factor for coronary artery disease, stroke, heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, vision loss, and chronic kidney disease.
High blood pressure is classified as either primary (essential) high blood pressure or secondary high blood pressure. About 90–95% of cases are primary, defined as high blood pressure due to nonspecific lifestyle and genetic factors. Lifestyle factors that increase the risk include excess salt, excess body weight, smoking, and alcohol. The remaining 5–10% of cases are categorized as secondary high blood pressure, defined as high blood pressure due to an identifiable cause, such as chronic kidney disease, narrowing of the kidney arteries, an endocrine disorder, or the use of birth control pills.
Blood pressure is expressed by two measurements, the systolic and diastolic pressures, which are the maximum and minimum pressures, respectively. Normal blood pressure at rest is within the range of 100–140 millimeters mercury (mmHg) systolic and 60–90 mmHg diastolic. High blood pressure is present if the resting blood pressure is persistently at or above 140/90 mmHg for most adults. Different numbers apply to children. Ambulatory blood pressure monitoring over a 24-hour period appears more accurate than office best blood pressure measurement.
Lifestyle changes and medications can lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of health complications. Lifestyle changes include weight loss, decreased salt intake, physical exercise, and a healthy diet. If lifestyle changes are not sufficient then blood pressure medications are used. Up to three medications can control blood pressure in 90% of people. The treatment of moderately high arterial blood pressure (defined as >160/100 mmHg) with medications is associated with an improved life expectancy. The effect of treatment of blood pressure between 140/90 mmHg and 160/100 mmHg is less clear, with some reviews finding benefit and others finding a lack of evidence for benefit. High blood pressure affects between 16 and 37% of the population globally. In 2010 hypertension was believed to have been a factor in 18% (9.4 million) deaths.
In 2005 The theme for World Hypertension Day was ‘Awareness of high blood pressure’. The 2006 theme was ‘Treat to goal’, with a focus on keeping blood pressure under control. The recommended blood pressures are less than 140/90 mmHg for the general population and for the hypertensive population without any other complications, and less than 130/80 mmHg for those with diabetes mellitus or chronic kidney disease. These are the cut-off values recommended by international and Canadian guidelines. The 2007 WHD theme was ‘Healthy diet, healthy blood pressure’. Through such specific themes, the WHL intends to raise awareness not only of hypertension, but also of factors contributing to an increase in the incidence of hypertension and on ways to prevent it. In an effort to empower the public, the theme for 2008 was ‘Measure your blood pressure…at home’. Recent reports confirm the ease, accuracy and safety of blood pressure measurements using home monitors. For the five-year period 2013-2018, the theme of WHD is ‘Know Your Numbers’ with the goal of increasing high blood pressure awareness in all populations around the world.