April 5, 2013
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs Nils Daulaire on World Health Day 2013
On April 7, 2013, we celebrate World Health Day to commemorate the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO), which marks its 65th anniversary this year. To celebrate WHO’s anniversary, we focus attention on this year’s World Health Day theme: high blood pressure, a significant public health issue both globally and domestically.
Also known as hypertension, high blood pressure is a leading risk factor for heart disease and stroke and is a major cause of death and disability throughout the world. Many people with hypertension do not realize they have it. High blood pressure affects more than one in three adults worldwide and leads to more than 9 million deaths each year.
In the United States, heart disease and stroke, two major complications from high blood pressure, are leading causes of death. One of our major initiatives at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is Million Hearts, a public-private effort with 65 partners to date, aimed at preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. A number of organizations including health care providers, insurers and public health agencies are signing on to help people improve controlling their high blood pressure.
And throughout the world, one way we are actively working to reduce the global burden of high blood pressure is through the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD), of which HHS is a founding member. In 2012, GACD launched its first initiative to address high blood pressure in low- and middle-income countries. This important initiative is helping address the growing global epidemic of chronic noncommunicable diseases, affecting not only individuals, but entire populations.
When we focus attention specifically on helping people get their high blood pressure under control, we see dramatic improvements in people’s health. Fortunately, people can control hypertension in several ways, including with medication and healthy lifestyle changes. Achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight, participating in regular physical activity, and eating a heart-healthy diet low in sodium, are some simple but important ways to reduce hypertension. Other ways include moderating alcohol use, not using tobacco, and taking medications as prescribed by your provider.
World Health Day 2013 provides the opportunity to raise world awareness of the causes and consequences of high blood pressure, to encourage adults to check their pressure, and to make blood pressure measurement accessible and affordable to all. These actions can help reduce global treatment costs for related illnesses while helping individuals benefit from healthier, longer lives.
Learn more about Million Hearts at http://millionhearts.hhs.gov.
Learn more about the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases at www.gacd.org.