Background: Few studies have assessed the extent and distribution of the blood-pressure burden worldwide. The aim of this study was to quantify the global burden of disease related to high blood pressure.
Methods: Worldwide burden of disease attributable to high blood pressure (> or =115 mm Hg systolic) was estimated for groups according to age (> or =30 years), sex, and World Bank region in the year 2001. Population impact fractions were calculated with data for mean systolic blood pressure, burden of deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), and relative risk corrected for regression dilution bias.
Findings: Worldwide, 7.6 million premature deaths (about 13.5% of the global total) and 92 million DALYs (6.0% of the global total) were attributed to high blood pressure. About 54% of stroke and 47% of ischaemic heart disease worldwide were attributable to high blood pressure. About half this burden was in people with hypertension; the remainder was in those with lesser degrees of high blood pressure. Overall, about 80% of the attributable burden occurred in low-income and middle-income economies, and over half occurred in people aged 45-69 years.
Interpretation: Most of the disease burden caused by high blood pressure is borne by low-income and middle-income countries, by people in middle age, and by people with prehypertension. Prevention and treatment strategies restricted to individuals with hypertension will miss much blood-pressure-related disease.