SA tops global hypertension list

SA has the highest rate of high blood pressure reported amongst people aged 50 and over.

SA has the highest rate of high blood pressure reported amongst people aged 50 and over.

CAPE TOWN - South Africa has the highest rate of high blood pressure reported amongst people aged 50 and over for any country in the world at any time in history, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

WHO organised the study looking at hypertension across six different countries as well as South Africa.

Professor Peter Lloyd-Sherlock from the University of East Anglia told the Redi Tlhabi Show that the survey revealed some shocking facts.

"We were looking at Ghana, India, China, Mexico as well as the Russian Federation. Rates of hypertension on people aged 50 and over were considerably higher in South Africa than any of those other countries.

"When we looked at published research not just for those six countries, but across the world, we found that the rates in South Africa are higher than have been reported for any other country, not just now but historically. "

Lloyd-Sherlock says there is no simple answer on why the rates are higher in South Africa.

"It's a complex condition and lots of different things can contribute to people's risks of having dangerously high blood pressure. But one of the things that stood out quite clearly from our research was that a very high proportion of people aged 50 and over in South Africa have weight problems, so they are either overweight or obese."

He adds the country is facing a growing problem of obesity.

"We found 72 percent of older people were either overweight or obese. A total of 45 percent were actually obese according to the standard scientific classification."