04 October 2021

28 000 people die every day from the consequences of hypertension

Submitted by SIMONSAYS communications
28 000 people die every day from the consequences of hypertension

Get Your Blood Pressure Tested Today! 

Globally, 28 000 people die every day from the consequences of hypertension (elevated blood pressure)1a. That’s the equivalent of 70 jumbo jets crashing and killing everyone on board, making it the biggest single contributor to deaths globally2a according to the World Health Organisation. Clearly nothing kills us more effectively than hypertension - raised blood pressure (BP). The good news is, regular BP checks can save lives and Because I Say So,a public health campaign, is calling on South Africans to go and get their BP tested. 

Orchestrated for the third year in a row by the International Society of Hypertension (ISH), the Southern African Hypertension Society (SAHS) and Servier; this worldwide campaign aims to refocus public attention, by encouraging young adults to motivate their parents and loved ones to get their BP checked. The campaign is being shared on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

This year the Because I Say So campaign message is even more crucial as hypertension has been identified as oneof the main factors in the occurrence of more severe symptoms in patients with Covid-19.Added to this, fewer patients have been able to be diagnosed due to greater difficulties in accessing their health care practitioners since the outbreak began. This is alarming when you consider that 44 - 46% of adults over the age of 15 in South Africa have high BP3 - but only 50% know they are affected4.

The reason so many are unaware that they have elevated BP levels is there are no symptoms and you don’t feel ill until you have a cardiac event like a heart attack. 

Dr Martin Mpe a Gauteng-based Cardiologist and president of the South African Hypertension Society explains,“High BP is acknowledged as the ‘silent killer’ because it’s just that. Despite there being no indications or symptoms of ill health, this invisible illness can potentially, if left unchecked, lead to serious heart disease, stroke and even death. Other complications can include heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, renal damage, retinal hemorrhage, and visual impairment.With relatively few people making the connection between raised BP and the devastating consequences of the illness - awareness levels need urgent attention to curb the exponential growth of the disease in South Africa.”

A BP test is the only way to find out if BP levels are elevated – a non-invasive and really quick measure that will immediately determine if levels are unacceptably high. South Africans are being reminded to go to their local pharmacy, clinic or doctor to get tested.

The frightening truth of the hypertension disease burden is the number of people with raised BP is on an upward trajectory, particularly in low and middle-income countries in Africa, with no signs of slowing down. Globally, adults with raised BP grew from 594-million to 1.13-billion between 1975 and 20155a. Of great concern is that over these four decades research has shown that the highest worldwide BP levels shifted from high-income countries to low-income, developing countries, and by 2015, sub-Saharan Africa joined central and Eastern Europe and south Asia as the regions with the highest global BP levels5b.

Not just statistics – someone’s mother, father, husband, wife, or grandparent dies every three seconds from hypertension-related causes6a.


Prof Brian Rayner, nephrologist and past director of the Hypertension Institute at the University of Cape Town says, “Elevated BP is subject to the rule of halves. “50% of the population is unaware of their condition, 50% of those who are aware do not take treatment, and 50% of those who take treatment are not controlled, leavingonly 12.5 % of the total population who are controlled.”

From this it’s clear that BP management is all about the numbers and these figures indicate that treatment goals are not being met and it’s time to retool.

Reinforcing this, Mpe adds “More than 1/3 of people treated for hypertension stop their treatment after only six months while 50% of people with hypertension stop their treatment completely after one year.9 This lack of adherence prevents BP from returning to normal and has very important and severe consequences, including an increased risk of a heart attack or stroke10. Early research shows that people with high BP may be more likely to experience worse symptoms, or complications from COVID-19 and are at higher risk of dying from the virus. In fact, the risk is about twice as high as that of the overall population.”

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a dramatic increase in people with chronic diseases like hypertension, stopping their treatment. Although there are no locally available stats they are expected to be even higher than Europe, where almost 10% of such people stopped their treatment during the months when the pandemic was at its highest.


Raynergoes on to say, “Hypertension is most often caused by a combination of hereditary influences and poor lifestyle. You can do little about your parents or your age but you can live healthy. This includes exercise, reducing salt intake, following a good diet high in fruit and veg, no excessive alcohol consumption, maintaining an ideal weight, managing stress and no smoking.

“If you don’t have your BP measured you won’t know you have the condition until it strikes. Detecting hypertension early helps minimise the risks.If you have a BP higher than 140/90 immediately seek further medical intervention. Lifestyle changes should be sufficient to correct a BP of 130-140/80-90,” says Rayner.

"Servier has been committed to fighting hypertension for 50 years, and we know there’s still a lot to do as an increased number of patients suffer from hypertension and its consequences," says Servier’s Hypertension and Cardiovascular Group Product Manager, Mzwandile Ramaphakela. "Inthe current health context, it’s even more important to raise awareness around hypertension, as this silent chronic disease is an aggravating factor for Covid-19.”

In closing Mpe says, “When one considers that a simple BP test can be instrumental in avoiding this, it clarifies the importance of collaborative public information campaigns like this and why we need to bolster awareness levels as a matter of urgency. Mobilising South Africans to get their BP screened has never been more important.”

-- ENDS --

About ISH
The International Society of hypertension (ISH) is dedicated to the prevention and management of cardiovascular diseases around the world. The ISH has identified that awareness is a key issue in the fight against hypertension.[1] During May Measurement Month (MMM), the aim is to screen as many people as possible for elevated blood pressure. In 2018, 1.5 million worldwide were screened for their blood pressure. Servier will be partnering with ISH in order to help raise awareness and motivate those at risk to have their blood pressure checked. 

About SAHS
The vision of the Southern African Hypertension Society (SAHS) is to contribute toward eradicating the ill-effects of high blood pressure in Southern Africa. To achieve this vision the SAHS is committed to promoting education, research, setting out guidelines, open communication and awareness of hypertension throughout Southern Africa.

About Servier
Servier is a global pharmaceutical group governed by a Foundation. With a strong international presence in 150 countries and a total revenue of 4.7 billion euros in 2020, Servier employs 22,500 people worldwide. Servier is an independent group that invests over 20% of its brand-name revenue in Research and Development every year. To accelerate therapeutic innovation for the benefit of patients, the Group is committed to open and collaborative innovation with academic partners, pharmaceutical groups, and biotech companies. It also integrates the patient's voice at the heart of its activities, from research to support beyond the pill.

A leader in cardiology, the ambition of the Servier Group is to become a recognised and innovative player in oncology. Its growth is based on a sustained commitment to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, oncology and immuno-inflammatory, and neurodegenerative diseases. To promote access to healthcare for all, the Servier Group also offers a range of quality generic drugs covering most pathologies. More information: www.servier.co.za


  1. Source: World Health Organization (WHO).
  2. Ref Poulter N et al. Lancet. 2015;386(9995):801-812.
  3. SA Demographic and Health Survey: https://www.statssa.gov.za/publications/Report%2003-00-09/Report%2003-00-092016.pdf
  4. Olsen MH, Angell SY, Asma S, et al. Lancet. 2016;388:2665‐2712.
  5. Worldwide trends in blood pressure from 1975 – 2015: a pooled analysis of 1479 population-based measurement  studies with 19.1million participants. NCD Risk Factor Collaboration – www.thelancet.comVol 389, January 7, 2017 (a: pg 37, b: pg 45)
  6. Lim SS, Vos T, Flaxman AD, et al. A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990–2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. Lancet 2012; 380: 2224–60.
  7. Ref Health24. [Internet]. What is the prevalence of hypertension? [updated 8 Feb 2018; cited 24 April 2018]. Available from https://www.health24.com/Medical/Hypertension/Faqs/What-is-the-prevalence-of-hypertension-20130205
  8. Ref Sherlock et al. Inter J Epidem 2014, 1-13.
  9. Ref Chowdhury R et al. Eur Heart J. 2013;34(38):2940-2948
  10. Bohm M et al. Am Heart J. 2013;166:306-314.e7.
  11. World Health Organization. Geneva: WHO, 2014.
  12. Kearney PM, et al.  Lancet 2005; 365: 217–23.
Published in Health and Medicine