London: About ninety per cent of Britons are at risk from high blood pressure increasing their risk of heart disease, strokes and kidney failure if current rates continue, according to a new report in the medical magazine The Lancet.
The report claims that poor lifestyle choices such as alcohol abuse, smoking, a salt rich diet and lack of exercise have seen the incidence of high blood pressure soar.
High blood pressure also known as hypertension is also being diagnosed in adolescents and children and a global epidemic is being predicted.
Obesity, high cholesterol, diabetes, a poor diet and a lack of exercise all contribute to the condition.
The report says: “Lifestyle factors, such as physical inactivity, a salt-rich diet with high processed and fatty foods, and alcohol and tobacco use, are at the heart of this increased disease burden, which is spreading at an alarming rate from developed countries to emerging economies such as India and China.
“Many patients still believe that hypertension is a disease that can be cured, and stop or reduce medication when blood pressure levels fall. Physicians need to convey the message that hypertension is the first, and easily measurable, irreversible sign that many organs in the body are under attack.
“Perhaps this message will make people think more carefully about the consequences of an unhealthy lifestyle and give preventative measures a real chance.”
High blood pressure is defined as a reading that exceeds 140/90 compared to a normal reading of about 120/80.
The first figure corresponds to the ‘surge’ of blood which occurs with each heart beat whilst the second is the ‘resting’ pressure between beats.
The medical experts also give advice on how best to treat high blood pressure.
They say that patients should take a combination of two or more drugs to control the hypertension plus statin drugs which will reduce cholesterol.