AMMAN — Jordan is one of the countries in the region with a high prevalence of smoking, which is a leading cause of several diseases and health conditions, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official said Thursday.

Akram Ali Eltom, WHO Representative for Jordan, noted that the Kingdom is ranked fifth in the region in smoking prevalence among males and third among females.

Combined with an unhealthy lifestyle, smoking leads to health problems including hypertension and cardiovascular diseases, Eltom added at a ceremony held at Prince Hamzah Hospital to mark World Health Day, annually observed on April 7.

According to Ahmad Quteitat, director of the Ministry of Health's Hospitals Directorate, 26 per cent of Jordanians aged 25 years and above suffer from hypertension.

In a previous statement to The Jordan Times, Mohammad Tarawneh, director of the ministry’s non-communicable diseases directorate, said approximately 30 per cent of Jordanians aged 18 years and above have high blood pressure.

He added that nearly one-third of high blood pressure patients in the country are diagnosed after being hospitalised for complications resulting from this condition.

"The theme for World Health Day 2013 is controlling high blood pressure, a condition which affects more than one in three adults worldwide. For millions of people, high blood pressure will lead to fatal heart attacks, debilitating strokes, and chronic heart and kidney disease," according to the WHO website.

In addition, high blood pressure can result in damage to the eyes, including blindness. The blood vessels in the eyes can rupture or burst from high blood pressure leading to vision impairment.

High blood pressure is often called the “silent killer” because it usually has no noticeable warning signs or symptoms until other serious problems arise, according to the US Centres for Disease Control.

Therefore, many people with hypertension do not know they have it.