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Control your blood pressure ... control your life, 4 April 2013

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A large group of young people from the Region, with four young people in the foreground, walking down a boulevard in beautiful weather.Detecting high blood pressure is the first step in preventing and controlling it4 April 2013 – This year's slogan for World Health Day, celebrated annually on 7 April is: control your blood pressure ... control your life. High blood pressure is one of the most important contributors to heart attacks and stroke – which together are the world’s highest causes of premature death and disability. Researchers estimate that high blood pressure contributes to more than 8 million deaths each year globally. It also increases the risk of conditions such as kidney failure and blindness.

In the Eastern Mediterranean Region, with a population of 600 million people, the rates of physical inactivity are higher than in any other region in the world. Overall, more than a third of men and nearly half of women in the Region are physically inactive. Around 50% of adults in the Region are overweight and in some countries more than 70% of women and an increasing number of children are overweight. In some countries of the Region more than 50% of men use tobacco.

Dr Ala Alwan, WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean, noted that the prevention and control of blood pressure is possible through affordable and effective interventions: “We need to change our lifestyles. This means eating a healthy balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruit.

It means reducing the amount of salt we eat and avoiding food rich in fat and sugars. And it means maintaining normal body weight and taking regular exercise”.

The prevalence of hypertension is highest in Africa (46% of adults), while the lowest prevalence is found in the Americas (35% of adults). In the Eastern Mediterranean Region the prevalence of hypertension is one of the highest (41% of adults).

Overall, high-income countries have a lower prevalence of hypertension (35% of adults) than low- and middle-income groups (40% of adults) – thanks to successful multisectoral public policies and better access to health care.

Related link

World Health Day 2013

Press release: Measure your blood pressure, reduce your risk