'One in four Indians likely to be misdiagnosed for BP'

Pressure points

Hypertension diagnosis can be as tricky as the reading itself in a clinical environment.

Often, one fails to distinguish between ‘white coat hypertension’ (WCH) and ‘masked hypertension’ (MH).

Whitecoat hypertension is when a person with no symptoms of blood pressure is diagnosed with alarming readings due to fear of medical environs. Whereas masked hypertension is when an actual BP patient may reveal normal readings leaving one puzzled.

With chances of such misdiagnosis in the recent times, a nationwide study on hypertension involving over 23,000 patients, spanning over 15 months, revealed that one among four Indians is likely to be misdiagnosed for high blood pressure and put on medication, which may, in turn, affect the person’s health in the future.

The study titled ‘India Heart Study’ by Eris Lifesciences, conducted between April 2018 and June 2019 in 355 cities of 15 states including Karnataka, found that as many as 41% of the tested individuals were unaware of their high blood pressure.

At the same time, about 25% of the respondents revealed conditions of WCH and were likely to be mistaken for hypertension and wrongly advised medication. Further, 12.7% of respondents were oblivious to their high BP levels as they never came across high readings during their visits to hospitals.

With limited information on cardiovascular ailments in India, especially on the prevalence of hypertension, the India Heart study was designed to address the critical gap between white coat and masked hypertension conditions, according to Dr Upendra Kaul, cardiologist, chairman and dean, academics and research, at the New Delhi-based Batra Hospital and Medical Research Centre. 

‘Take three BP measurements’

Doctors strongly recommended that a person must take at least three blood pressure measurements in different conditions for an accurate diagnosis. Stressing on the measurement of blood pressure beyond clinical conditions, Dr Viraj Suvarna, President (Medical) of Eris Lifesciences, said: “Masked hypertension, if undetected, is a dangerous phenomenon. It is important to monitor one’s blood pressure beyond the clinic, even at home, as per prescribed guidelines.”

According to cardiologist Dr B V Baliga, director of Baliga Diagnostics, the prevalence of high BP is on the rise in the state. “Unlike other diseases, hypertension with no symptoms is fast emerging as a silent killer. Anyone above the age of 40 must monitor their blood pressure at home regularly, besides checkups at clinics,” he said. 

Whitecoat hypertension

* Karnataka - 25%
* Rest of India - 24%

Masked hypertension

* Karnataka - 13%
* Rest of India - 18%

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