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September 22, 2023 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm



What is Hypertension?

According to medical standards, the reading on a doctor’s BP monitor going above 140/90 accounts for hypertension.

High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is often called the “silent killer” because it often goes unnoticed until it triggers severe health complications such as strokes, heart attacks, kidney damage, and heart failure.

The World Health Organization (WHO) released its first-ever report on the global impact of hypertension this Tuesday, highlighting the devastating consequences of this widespread, yet often neglected condition.

What does the report say?

The WHO report reveals that hypertension affects one in three adults worldwide, making it a significant global health concern. It is a condition that knows no boundaries, affecting people across age groups and geographical regions.

The number of people living with hypertension has doubled from 650 million in 1990 to a staggering 1.3 billion in 2019, with nearly half of these unaware of their condition.

According to the WHO report, nearly four out of five people with hypertension are inadequately treated. Scaling up coverage could avert 76 million deaths between 2023 and 2050.

“Diagnosing and treating hypertension is the simplest and most basic care even a nurse could give in the absence of a doctor at a primary health facility, there is no excuse for any country failing to scale up efforts.

India’s BP performance

Recent research on hypertension in India paints a similar picture. A recent systematic review published in The Lancet Regional Health, Southeast Asia and a community study published in Cure us highlights the growing prevalence of hypertension in the country, particularly among younger adults and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

The research papers emphasize that a significant portion of hypertensive individuals in India remain undiagnosed. Lack of awareness about the condition and limited access to healthcare services are critical factors.

The Cure us study showed that the number of people with high blood pressure in India increased from 20.4% to 22.8%, especially among those aged 15-49.

While more cases are being found through screening, many people (around 58%) with high blood pressure do not know they have it, especially men, those with less education and money, tribal communities, and people living in rural areas.

Even when people know they have high blood pressure, six out of ten do not start treatment, so there is a need for interventions to change their health-seeking behaviour.

“The WHO report accurately reflects on hypertension as a public health problem, a significant issue in India

Through their extensive community surveys, such as the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) and Noncommunicable Diseases (NCD) surveys, researchers such as Dr. Basu have also found what WHO has reported.

Lifestyle matters

The WHO report underscores the role of modifiable risk factors in hypertension. Unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as a high-salt diet, lack of physical activity, and excessive alcohol consumption, increase hypertension risk.

This echoes the findings of the Indian research, which also highlights the impact of lifestyle factors on hypertension prevalence.

Sedentary lifestyles, poor dietary choices, and high stress levels contribute to the rising incidence of hypertension in India.

Suggested Lifestyle Changes

The WHO report emphasizes the importance of lifestyle changes in lowering blood pressure, such as adopting a healthier diet, quitting tobacco, and increasing physical activity.

It also highlights the role of affordable, widely available medications in effectively managing hypertension.

“What we now see in some countries is that as the food gets unhealthier, we also see a big increase in the rate of hypertension – so what we need here is not just access to care but also promotion of healthier lifestyle to curb NCDs, “he said during the press briefing.

Way forward for India

Challenges in treatment-seeking behaviour and need for educational and behavioural interventions.

According to the WHO report, regional disparities are evident among different countries.

The Cure us study identifies regional disparities within India. Southern States such as Kerala and Tamil Nadu show better control than the western and north/northeastern – States in India.

Medication adherence is crucial.

However, issues like forgetfulness in the elderly to take medication, availability, and affordability pose barriers.

Limited research exists on lifestyle and risk factors, with social determinants such as education and caste playing a role.

This calls for better data collection and evidence-based policies to address uncontrolled hypertension in India.

Managing cases of high blood pressure that don’t respond well to treatment, especially when doctors hesitate to take action in primary care settings, is also a problem, “Dr Basu said..

Additionally, ensuring that people take their medications over the long term and close monitoring of complications related to high blood pressure, especially in those with diabetes, are major challenges in India”.

Consequently, the National Programme for Noncommunicable Diseases aims to provide proper care for 70 million people with high blood pressure in India.

The economic aspect of hypertension management is a vital focus area of the WHO report. It underscores that prevention, early detection, and effective management of hypertension are among the most cost-effective interventions.

Mains Questions

  1. Discuss how the lifestyle changes are affecting the youth, especially with respect to Hypertension? Suggest some lifestyle changes that can address the issue correctly. (250 Words) 15 Marks
  2. India needs same seriousness in tackling the issue of Hypertension, as was the case with Polio. Elucidate (150 Words) 10 Marks
  3. The biggest issue with Hypertension is the fact that many in the population are not ready to accept it as a health issue? In this backdrop, suggest what policy interventions can be done to improve medication adherence. (150 Words) 10 Marks


September 22, 2023
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
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