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Undiagnosed hypertension is one of the leading risk factors for deaths in India: WHO report

Our Bureau, Mumbai
Thursday, May 17, 2018, 17:10 Hrs  [IST]

Non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes have overtaken communicable diseases as the leading causes of mortality in urban areas, as per a recent World Health Organization (WHO) report.

The report states hypertension is the third biggest risk factor for heart disease in India and is directly responsible for about 57 per cent of all stroke deaths and 24 per cent of all coronary heart disease deaths in India. As per NFHS data, about 9 per cent women and 14 per cent men falling in the age bracket of 15-49 years, suffer from hypertension nationally.

Another study reveals that about 35 per cent of patients suffering a heart attack in India are below the age of 50 and about 10 per cent are under 30. The reports state that incidence of high blood pressure has increased from 23 per cent to 42 per cent in the urban NCR population and 11 per cent to 28 per cent in rural NCR. The rise in age-specific prevalence is highest in the younger age group; 35-44 years.

“Hypertension is referred to frequently elevated blood pressure which causes the blood carrying arteries to narrow down thereby making it difficult for the blood to travel smoothly and easily throughout your body, making the heart work harder. When blood can't flow freely to your heart, you can experience frequent chest pain or irregular heart rhythms. Over time, a higher workload leads to an enlarged or thickened heart. The condition limits the ventricle's ability to pump blood to the entire body and increases the risk of heart attack, heart failure,” says Dr. PR Sodani, President, IIHMR University, Jaipur.

The fact that no known cause of hypertension is derived among 90 per cent of patients and most of them not even aware that they have hypertension until they observe symptoms related to heart disease, makes the scenario rather grim. Government initiatives such as the National Health Insurance Scheme which offer affordable secondary and tertiary care at any public or private empanelled hospital in the country, with benefits like cost of hospital stay and medication fully covered, can help in treating the large population affected by hypertension and other non communicable diseases.

Sedentary lifestyle, wrong food choices and lack of physical activity along with persistent exposure to stress are other factors which predispose the development of hypertension. Certain common symptoms associated with high blood pressure, including sweating, anxiety, sleeping problems and blushing, should be paid attention to. If blood pressure rises to the level of a hypertensive crisis, the symptoms may include headaches and nose bleeds.

When left undetected, hypertension can cause damage to the cardiovascular system and internal organs, such as the kidneys.  Apart from this, it is advisable to focus on lifestyle risk factors that can be modified. Limit the amount of alcohol consumption and quitting smoking are the first set of changes. Keeping a check on your salt intake can also help in minimizing the chances of hypertension to great extent. Eating more fruits and vegetables along with less fat is recommended for people who are at a risk of high blood pressure.

Weight control, stress control and indulging in moderate physical activity can considerably reduce the risk of hypertension.


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