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India has low rates of hypertension, reveals WHO study

Jyotsna Singh, New Delhi, May 16, 2012, DHNS: 1:36 IST
The prevalence of hypertension in India is low compared to world figures. In India, 23.10 per cent men and 22.60 per cent women over 25 years old suffer from hypertension, says the World Health Organisation’s ‘global health statistics 2012’ released on Wednesday.

Increased blood pressure is a high-risk condition that causes approximately 51 per cent deaths from stroke and 45 per cent from coronary artery disease in India.

Hypertension was directly responsible for 7.5 million deaths in 2004 — 12.8 per cent of the total global deaths.

High BP, the silent killer

The report said high blood pressure is a modern epidemic. It has been characterised as a “silent killer” because it shows negligible symptoms.

According to the report, India fares better than other countries in the South-East Asia Region (SEAR).

SEAR’s average is 25.40 per cent in men and 24.20 in women.

SEAR is WHO’s nomenclature for some Asian countries, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, North Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

India also fares better than the global average of 29.20 in men and 24.80 in women.

“India’s relatively good performance is the result of better health and education facilities, and good awareness. The country’s awareness programme is better than China’s,” said Dr Anand Pandey, senior cardiologist, Max Hospital.

However, he said India’s population is large and the absolute number of people with hypertension is quite high.

“With over 139 million patients, India accounts for 15 per cent of world’s uncontrolled hypertension patients. This will make India the world capital of hypertension and diabetes soon,” he said.

On problems in fighting hypertension, Dr Pandey said, “Patients fear anti-hypertensive medications due to side effects or getting addicted to tablets. But side effects from anti-hypertensive medications are rare and often not serious.”

On the contrary, he said if hypertension is not fought, it can result in serious diseases, some of them fatal.

He said anti-hypertensive medicines are not addictive or habit-forming.
Most people need to stay on medication to lower their risk of stroke, heart attack, kidney and heart failure.

Breaking the myth of getting an erectile dysfunction (ED) due to medication, he said uncontrolled hypertension increases the risk of ED.

Doctors recommend less usage of fats and salt in food while increasing intake of fruit and vegetables.

People affected

According to a study by the department of community medicine, University College of Medical Sciences and GTB Hospital, the prevalence of hypertension in the age-group 20 to 59 was 27.50 per cent. Of these, 53.30 per cent were aware of their diagnosis; 42.80 per cent were taking treatment and only 10.50 per cent had controlled BP.

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