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January 10, 2017

Global Burden of Raised Blood Pressure: Coming Into Focus

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
  • 2Division of Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA. 2017;317(2):142-143. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.19685

In this issue of JAMA, Forouzanfar and colleagues report updated estimates of the global burden of raised systolic blood pressure (SBP) from 1980 to 2015 using data from 844 reports of nationally representative samples comprising 8.7 million individuals from the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2015 (GBD 2015).1 Using complex, state-of-the-art methods including spatiotemporal Gaussian process regression, the authors compared estimates for 1990 with 2015 and reported that approximately 3.5 billion people aged 25 years older had SBP of at least 110 mm Hg (an 11% unadjusted increase), and 0.9 billion had SBP of 140 mm Hg or higher (an 18% unadjusted increase). The authors further reported that these prevalence estimates correspond with a 49% increase in the unadjusted number of annual deaths due to SBP of 110 mm Hg or higher (10.7 million [95% uncertainty interval {UI}, 9.6-11.8 million]) and a 51% increase due to an SBP of 140 mm Hg or higher (7.8 million [95% UI, 7.0-8.7 million]) in 2015. Since population growth and aging account for the majority (55%) of increases in numbers of deaths related to cardiovascular disease from 1990 to 2013,2 the downward trends in age-adjusted death rates due to raised SBP for men (0.92% per year [95% UI, 0.80%-1.03%]) and women (1.37% [95% UI, 1.26%-1.50%]) are important for comparing estimates over time.

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