‘Stress Threatens Epidemic Of Heart Disease’

The stress of everyday life is threatening a global epidemic of cardiovascular disease, a report by international health experts has warned. High blood pressure is a “silent condition” which is “grossly underestimated” by patients, their families, medics and politicians, according to the study unveiled at the European Parliament in Brussels.

The move towards “Westernised” lifestyles – associated with high-fat diets, long working hours and lack of exercise – is partly to blame. But by 2025 almost two thirds of the world’s adults could have high blood pressure.

The report, High Blood Pressure and Health Policy: Where We Are and Where We Need to Go Next, said a quarter of the world’s adults, or one billion people, were afflicted. In Britain, more than a third of adults are estimated to suffer from hypertension.

Already, 7.1 million sufferers are dying each year because of hypertension, they claim. It is a growing problem in Brazil, China, India, Russia, Turkey and the Central European states.

The report said people were dying unnecessarily because up to 50 per cent of patients failed to take prescribed medication or make lifestyle changes. Smoking, high-salt and high-fat diets, excessive alcohol intake and obesity are the “lifestyle factors” to blame. “If high blood pressure was an infectious disease, we would mobilise against it as militantly as if it was avian influenza or Aids,” it said.