Blood pressure values in Germany decrease, but remain too high
Hypertension is a common complaint that poses massive health risks. However, a recent study comes to the gratifying conclusion that blood pressure values in Germany have dropped in the past two decades. Despite the falling values, blood pressure in Germany is still too high, report the scientists of the German Center for Cardiovascular Research (DZHK).
According to the DZHK, the current evaluation of seven large population studies in Germany has shown that blood pressure values in Germany have decreased in the past two decades. The decline was greatest among 55- to 74-year-olds. However, there is no reason to give the all-clear. Because blood pressure levels in Germany remain too high overall, especially for men.
Significant reduction in the age group of 55 to 74 year olds
For their current study, scientists from the consortium on blood pressure epidemiology (founded by DZHK researchers) examined the data from two national health surveys and five regional population-based studies that were carried out between 1997 and 2012. For the first time, this enables a comprehensive overview of blood pressure values in Germany over the past twenty years, the researchers emphasize. On the basis of the data evaluation, it became clear that the blood pressure values for men and women have decreased nationwide. The most significant reduction was found in the age group of 55 to 74 year olds, the experts explain.
According to the scientists, regional differences could also be observed in the drop in blood pressure. For example, the values in the northeast have dropped the most compared to the national average. "The east-west divide, which has been demonstrated in previous publications, according to which the values in east Germany were higher than in west Germany, is thus adjusting," said the DZHK.
Hypertension is more commonly recognized in women
Gender differences that have been observed in previous studies have not changed, according to the researchers. Furthermore, existing high blood pressure in women is recognized earlier, treated more often and thus successfully reduced. The scientists also refer to a study by Dr. Hannelore Neuhauser from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), also a member of the consortium on blood pressure epidemiology. In their investigation, it became clear that the gender-based differences between 18 and 54-year-olds are particularly large.
Men too rarely at the doctor?
According to Dr. Neuhauser observed such gender differences in hypertension. "They may come about because younger men rarely go to the doctor and their blood pressure values are therefore checked less frequently," the expert suspects. On the other hand, women are regularly at the gynecologist, where their blood pressure is also measured. Only in young men between the ages of 25 and 34 from the north of East Germany was the current study showing a drop in blood pressure values. However, this positive trend was not evident in the rest of Germany.
Number of people with high blood pressure hardly changed
The data analysis also made it clear that hypertension has been treated more and more in recent years, the scientists report. Here the increased treatment rates are a possible reason for the improved values. But preventive measures such as healthier nutrition, more exercise and a cessation of smoking also contribute to the positive development, according to the doctors. "However, blood pressure levels are still too high and the number of people with high blood pressure has changed little," reports the DZHK.
More hypertension cases in the future
Despite the decline in blood pressure values in the past decades, the researchers assume that the diagnosis of high blood pressure will increase again in the future due to the aging society. This applies not only to Germany. For good reason, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified hypertension as the most important health risk worldwide, because it is one of the largest risk factors for dementia, cardiovascular and kidney diseases. "In many cases, high blood pressure would be avoidable and there are effective treatment options," the scientists emphasize.
Take countermeasures early
The example of north-east Germany illustrates, according to Dr. Neuhauser, how much can be achieved within a decade. "But there is still a lot of scope and the primary goal must remain that hypertension does not develop in the first place," continues the expert. Currently, the limit for high blood pressure is 140/90 mm Hg. However, the treatment must start earlier, in the so-called prehypertonic range between 120-140 / 80-90 mm Hg. Those affected do not need medication, but a lifestyle change can do a lot cause. Losing weight, moving more, eating lots of fruits and vegetables and not smoking are recommended measures here. (fp)