Three out of four individuals in Bangladesh face the risk of developing heart diseases that could be prevented by relatively simple means, a policy forum in Sri Lanka was told on Monday.

The policy forum on Hypertension and Cardio-Metabolic Diseases saw people from various professional fields come together in Colombo on Monday, United News of Bangladesh reported. The forum was overseen by Dr Harsha de Silva, the Sri Lankan Minister for National Policies & Economic Affairs.

The leading cause of heart and kidney diseases is hypertension and by 2025, over 1.5 billion people are expected to be affected by the ailment. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) one out of three people above the age of 35 have hypertension and half of them are unaware that they suffer from the condition.

Tazeen Jafar, the lead investigator of the Control of Blood Pressure and Risk Attenuation in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka (known as COBRA-BPS), said three out of four adults who suffer from hypertension have mediocre control of their blood pressure and one-third of them also have diabetes.

This was troubling because problems such as heart attacks, stroke and kidney disease tend to manifest five to seven years earlier in South Asians than Caucasians in Europe.

The COBRA-BPS study evaluates low-cost solutions to try to control hypertension and reduce cardiovascular risks in primary healthcare systems in rural communities in South Asia, and officials felt the strategy could be implemented by community health workers across Bangladesh, which has a population of more than 160 million.

Dr Sania Nishtar, co-chair of the WHO, said there was a need for universal healthcare access to include hypertension and diabetes care for all age groups of people across the region.