Hypertension is a growing problem that needs attention in Bangladesh

icddr,b studies show rising prevalence of hypertension in both urban and rural Bangladesh

The burden of hypertension– high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for stroke, heart failure, and kidney failure – now stands at about 15-20% among the adult population of Bangladesh. These are the findings of two new studies led by icddr,b scientists, which help better understand this growing problem in the developing world.

A recent review, led by icddr,b’s Kamrun Nahar Koly, looked at nine primary studies and found that among Bangladeshi adults, the prevalence of hypertension is increasing at a rate of 0.04 per year.  A separate study, led by icddr,b’s Masuma Akter Khanam, found that more than 10% of rural Bangladeshi adults are unaware of their high blood pressure, and this proportion doubles to one in 5 people aged 60 years and older.  Even among those taking anti-hypertensive medication, more than 50% were ‘uncontrolled’ - unable to maintain a normal blood pressure level. 

Among risk factors for hypertension, age, gender, race and genetics are non-modifiable and thus difficult for people to change. Therefore, prevention and control efforts focus on better managing the modifiable risk factors through lifestyle changes such as reducing overweight, increasing physical activity, lowering the consumption of sodium and high calorie diets, and avoiding the consumption of alcohol, tobacco or betel leaves, say the researchers.

As hypertension is becoming an emerging epidemic in developing countries, Bangladesh is poised to take further action to prevent non-communicable diseases. In order to best tackle the rising prevalence of hypertension, these two new studies help estimate its magnitude and associated risk factors.