1 in 3 Indians has high BP, most unaware
India is sitting on a hypertension time bomb with one in three adults affected by high blood pressure and the majority of them unaware of the condition.
Also, hypertension is no longer the disease of the old with more and more youngsters reporting the condition, inviting an enhanced risk of heart attacks and strokes.
These findings are part of the first-ever national survey of hypertension prevalence which the Cardiology Society of India conducted on September 21 by randomly checking the blood pressure of 74,520 people visiting public transport points, malls and other public places.
Conducted by trained volunteers, the maiden survey revealed that 33 per cent of the tested subjects had high blood pressure of more than 140/90. Among the hypertensive, two in every three were below 60 years of age revealing that blood pressure is now not an old age disease.
Hypertension is striking early and the biggest worry is – out of those found with the condition, over 60 per cent have no clue they have it.
“The survey revealed an exceptionally high burden of unknown and uncontrolled blood pressure in the random population. Out of the tested subjects, only 8,060 knew they had high BP. Of these only 42 per cent had controlled BP. The rest are at heavy risk of a heart attack, stroke, blindness and renal failure,” said Dr HK Chopra, president, Cardiology Society.
The prevalence of high BP among youngsters (38 per cent of the affected were below 45 years) explains the growing burden of coronary artery disease and strokes among the young, experts say.
Ashok Seth, Chairman, Escorts Heart Institute, recalls how two decades ago the prevalence of hypertension in India was around 22 per cent. “A rise of 10 per cent in prevalence is alarming. It means a growing burden of non-communicable diseases and related mortality and morbidity. There are clearly established links between high BP and renal and heart failures,” Seth said.
Experts cautioned people against what they described as India’s “biggest silent killer”. “We recommend every person from age 20 to get regular BP checkups every six months,” Dr Chopra said, advocating the need for optimal body weight, controlled cholesterol, low salt intake and regular exercising.
Till now, hypertension studies in India have focussed on hospital settings where only potentially hypertensive patients report for testing. Cardiology Society’s study is a landmark survey as it is the first population-based BP prevalence survey which reveals startling trends around young India being at heightened risk of heart attacks, renal and heart failures on account of the rising incidence of BP.