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As Hypertension Prevalence Rises, 50% Of Indians Are Unaware Of Diagnosis

Even as prevalence of hypertension is rising fast among Indians, awareness, diagnosis and treatment of the condition remains significantly low. In fact, more than 50% of those with hypertension are unaware of their diagnosis, less than 1 in 7 (13%) take blood pressure lowering medication, and less than 1 in 10 (8%) achieved any control over their condition, a new study by PLOS Medicine said.

The study also finds substantial variation in management of hypertension in rural and urban areas as well as among states. Awareness level was lowest in Chhattisgarh (22.1%) and highest in Puducherry at over 80%. In urban areas, 47.9% of hypertensive people were aware of their condition, whereas only 14.9% received treatment and 8.3% were controlled. The situation was worse in rural areas where 42.5% were aware, 12.3% got treatment and only 7.7% were controlled, according to the findings of the study.

“Hypertension prevalence in India is high, but the proportion of adults with hypertension who are aware of their diagnosis, are treated, and have achieved control is low. Even after adjusting for states’ economic development, there is large variation among states in health system performance in the management of hypertension. Improvements in access to hypertension diagnosis and treatment are especially important among men, in rural areas, and in populations with lower household wealth,” the study said.

The study, conducted by researchers from Germany’s Heidelberg University, Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health and Public Health Foundation of India, was based on a survey of 7,31,864 individuals aged 15 to 49 years sampled from all states and UTs in India. Interestingly, women had better control over their blood pressure than men.

The analysis found that while 10.9% of hypertensive women were taking their medicine and had normal blood pressure, only 5.3% of hypertensive men did so. “India needs to urgently improve hypertension control among households with lower levels of wealth and those living in rural areas, which will likely need to include access to low-cost or free anti-hypertensive medications. A further important target group is men,” authors of the study say. – Times of India

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