A recently published study funded by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on rates of high blood pressure ranks Switzerland’s women top, with the lowest rate of hypertension among the 200 nations studied.
The study estimates that 17% of Switzerland’s women suffer from hypertension. The top 10 nations for women include Peru (18%), Canada (20%), Taiwan (21%), Spain (21%), Republic of Korea (21%), Japan (22%), United Kingdom (23%), China (24%) and Iceland (24%).
Unlike Switzerland’s women, Swiss men don’t score so well. Men in general suffer from higher rates of high blood pressure and men is Switzerland are no exception. The hypertension study estimates that 26% of men in Switzerland suffer from high blood pressure, putting them in 10th place, behind Eritrea (22%), Peru (23%), Bangladesh (24%), Canada (24%), Ethiopia (25%), Solomon Islands (25%), Papua New Guinea (25%), Lao PDR (26%) and Cambodia (26%).
The difference between male and female rates of hypertension is reflected in other measures of poor health such as excess weight and obesity. Men in Switzerland are much more likely to be an unhealthy weight than women. In 2017, 51% of men in Switzerland were overweight (38.7%) or obese (12.3%). The same figures for women were 22.8% and 10.2%, a total of 33% compared to 51%.
The worst performing nation in the study on hypertension was Paraguay where 51% of women and 62% of men have high blood pressure. The worst performer in Europe was Hungary for men (56%) and Croatia for women (45%).
In addition to improving underlying health, identifying and medicating those with hypertension can bring rates down. Nations with high performing healthcare systems have an advantage here. However, despite Switzerland’s expensive healthcare system, second only to the US, it trails many leading nations on rates of hypertension treatment and related reduction.
Among women, Switzerland detects 74% of hypertension, treats 57% of it and controls 39% of it. Among men, it detects 73%, treats 56%, and controls 35% of high blood pressure.
Nations leading on the treatment of high blood pressure do far better than Switzerland. South Korea leads for women with 78% detection, 78% treatment and 57% control. Canada, in second place, detects 75%, treats 71% and controls 57%, while Costa Rica detects 82%, treats 76% and controls 54%. Another high performer, Iceland detects 82%, treats 72% and controls 53% of cases in women. The US performs well too with 83% detection, 73% treatment and 51% control. In continental Europe, leading nations on treatment of hypertension in women include Portugal, Malta and Germany. Portugal detects 75%, treats 71% and controls 52% of cases, while Malta detects 74%, treats 69% and controls 48% and Germany detects 71%, treats 65% and controls 48% of cases.
The nations leading on the treatment of hypertension in men are similar to those for women. Canada, the leader for men, detects 80%, treats 76% and controls 64%. Iceland detects 83%, treats 71% and controls 51% of cases, while Costa Rica detects 72%, treats 64% and controls 45%. The US, which also scores well on treating men, detects 78%, treats 66% and controls 45%. In continental Europe, leading nations on treatment of hypertension in men include Germany and Malta. Germany detects 72%, treats 61% and controls 43% of cases, while Malta detects 70%, treats 65% and controls 45%. Switzerland controls 35% of high blood pressure in men.
The biggest differences between Switzerland’s men and women are the underlying rates of hypertension (26% vs 17%) and the extent to which it is controlled (35% vs 39%). Detection (74% vs 73%) and treatment (57% vs 56%) levels are close. This suggests Swiss men, like men across much of the world, might not be looking after themselves as well women.