One-third of India’s population found to be hypertensive: Survey

Aarti Dhar, CNS Correspondent, India
[First published in The India Saga, New Delhi, India]
One-third of India’s population has been found to be hypertensive with 60% of these people unaware of their status, either due to lack of awareness or poor access to good screening tests, a latest survey has found. The initial findings of the Great Indian BP (Blood Pressure) Survey, conducted by the Cardiological Society of India in 24 states on September 21, 2015, found 33% of respondents to be hypertensive. This alarmingly high figure reinforces the need for aggressive cardio-preventive measures.

The survey was conducted simultaneously over a period of 8 hours, in government and private hospitals across 700 sites in 100 cities, with the help of 7,500 volunteers and paramedics. More than 1.8 lakh people were studied, making this the single largest single day survey of hypertension done anywhere in the world. Initial findings based on 74,520 results indicate that more than 24,500 who were suffering from hypertension were in the 31-45 years age group, with 60% of them being unaware of their status- either due to lack of awareness or good screening facilities. Despite medication, 42% patients had uncontrolled high blood pressure, putting them at the risk of heart disease. The statistics suggest that hypertension can no longer be called an old age disease, says Dr Rishi Sethi, Prof. Department of Cardiology, K.G’s Medical University at Lucknow and Member of Scientific Committee of Asia Pacific Society of Interventional Cardiology. Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are the number one cause of death globally. This term is used to describe a group of disorders of the heart and blood vessels and includes: coronary heart disease, cerebro-vascular disease, congenital heart disease and deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism.

In 2012, 31% of all global deaths were attributed to CVDs – this equates to roughly 17.5 million deaths annually. An estimated 7.4 million of these deaths were due to coronary heart disease, while 6.7 million were due to stroke. According to the World Heart Federation, addressing behavioural risk factors can prevent most cardiovascular diseases. The leading CVD risk factor is raised blood pressure, to which 13% of global CVD deaths are attributed, followed by tobacco use (9%), raised blood glucose (6%), physical inactivity (6%) and obesity (5%). Tobacco use is an omnipresent but avoidable risk factor. A long-term study of men aged 40 – 59 found a significant connection between tobacco consumption and death by CVD: after 25 years, 57.7% of persons smoking 30 cigarettes per day had died compared to only 36.3% of non-smokers.

Unlike other diseases, CVDs affect all race types and genders in nearly equal proportions. However, CVD does target one group: the ageing. As a person gets older, the heart undergoes changes – even in the absence of disease – which makes contracting a CVD more likely.

However, controlling risk factors and taking charge of heart health can reduce the chances of heart attack or stroke by more than 80%. In addition to changing behavioural risk factors, early detection is crucial. This includes active monitoring of a person’s cardiovascular health, especially if the person is likely to develop it due to family history or other risk factors. Medical counselling and medicines may be appropriate, based on a physician’s guidance. As is often the case in global health, the poorest are affected most. More than three quarters of the world's deaths from CVDs occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This is because people in LMICs often do not have access to primary health care, which can provide early detection and treatment for people with risk factors. As a result, many people in LMICs with CVDs are detected late in the course of the disease, resulting in lower survival rates. The economic impact of CVDs and other non communicable diseases (NCDs) is becoming increasingly apparent. At the micro level, poor individuals in low- and middle-income countries with a CVD are likely to become poorer due to the catastrophic health spending and high out-of-pocket expenditure necessary to treat CVDs. And at the macro level, CVDs place a heavy burden on the economies of the LMICs due to loss in productivity and the straining of national resources to treat cases.
[First published in The India Saga, New Delhi, India] 

Aarti Dhar,Citizen News Service - CNS
October 6, 2016