The "World health statistics 2012" report, which for the first time put the spotlight on the growing problem of the non-communicable diseases burden, claims that one in three adults worldwide has raised blood pressure that causes around half of all deaths from stroke and heart disease.
Similarly, one in 10 adults aged 25 years and more has diabetes, a condition that puts one at risk of heart disease, kidney failure and blindness, said the report, highlighting the growing problem of the noncommunicable diseases burden for the first time.
It also provided the clearest ever evidence of the spread of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease from rich countries to poorer nations such as in Africa, as lifestyles and diets are changing there.
"This report is further evidence of the dramatic increase in the conditions that trigger heart disease and other chronic illnesses, particularly in low- and middle-income countries," Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, said in a release.
"In some African countries, as much as half the adult population has high blood pressure."
The report, which includes information from 194 countries on the percentage of men and women with raised blood pressure and blood glucose levels, noted that widespread diagnosis and treatment with low-cost medication have significantly reduced mean blood pressure and deaths from it in developed countries.
However, in Africa, more than 40 per cent (and up to 50 per cent) of adults in many countries are estimated to have high blood pressure, it said.
Most of these people remain undiagnosed, although many of these cases could be treated with low-cost medications, which would significantly reduce the risk of death and disability from heart disease and stroke. MORE