LIH contributes to an important worldwide study on blood pressure with national data

2017 - 02 - 01

Malou Fraiture

LIH contributes to an important worldwide study on blood pressure with national data

Hypertension is the most important risk factor for cardiovascular disorders and chronic kidney disease. A blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg or higher is considered as elevated. A study, published in November 2016 in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, reports worldwide trends in elevated blood pressure over the last four decades.

This global blood pressure study is the largest of its kind with the longest observation period. It included data from 1479 population-based studies that had measured the blood pressure of more than 19 million adult people and used national data from the ORISCAV-LUX study that was generated at LIH’s Department of Population Health.

The study found that between 1975 and 2015, the overall number of people with raised blood pressure has almost doubled. Presently, more than 1.13 billion people are suffering from hypertension, and blood pressure was found to be generally higher in men than in women. The results indicate that the global target of the World Health Organisation to reduce raised blood pressure prevalence by 25% by 2025 will most probably not be achieved.

While blood pressure has dropped sharply in high-income countries, the increase was prominent in low-and middle-income countries from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, and remained persistently high in central and Eastern Europe. The drop in wealthy countries can be related to the increased healthcare facilities and to better diets and life styles, rather than affluence. Also, early management and medication in high-income countries may contribute to counteract the raise in obesity, a significant risk factor for elevated blood pressure.

‘Luxembourg, similar to other European countries, displayed a steady decrease in blood pressure, in both genders, although the prevalence and mean blood pressure were higher than the global trends, particularly in men’, tells Dr Ala’a Alkerwi, principal investigator at the Epidemiology and Public Health Research Unit and national data provider for this important global study. ‘As part of a large network, regrouping hundreds of health scientists around the world, we could extract reliable results from our ORISCAV-LUX study to contribute to such a global population health study’, emphasis Dr Alkerwi. This study puts Luxembourg on the map of high standard population health science.

Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the worldwide study was conducted in the framework of the Non-Communicable Diseases Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC) coordinated by the WHO Collaborating Centre on NCD Surveillance and Epidemiology at Imperial College London. More than 750 authors contributed equally to this study.  

Link to open access publication:

Dynamic world maps on blood pressure, as well as on height, adiposity and diabetes can be viewed on the NCD-RisC website:

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Luxembourg data on mean systolic and diastolic blood pressure compared with global trends


Luxembourg data on prevalence and number of people with raised blood pressure compared with global trends