Blood Pressure: leading cause of death and disability
According to the first World Health Organisation (WHO) report on hypertension, which was issued on September 19, one in three people worldwide suffer from hypertension, and four out of five do not have it well treated. It is a sombre reminder that despite the easy accessibility to low-cost medications, nations haven’t done much to keep the leading cause of death and disability in check. The primary risk factor for cardiovascular disorders, including heart attacks and strokes, as well as the leading cause of illness and mortality, is uncontrolled blood pressure (above 140/90 mmHg). It is significant to highlight that the health concerns of hypertension do not start with blood pressure readings of over 140/90 mmHg. Instead, they function along a continuum even below the threshold for clinical hypertension, particularly in patients with diabetes, obesity, and alcohol and cigarette use. As a result, data on the prevalence of hypertension in the general population understate the overall risk of high blood pressure.
According to a WHO estimate based on 2019 statistics, 188 million Indian individuals between the ages of 30-79 have hypertension. Only 37% of them have had the condition identified, 30% are receiving treatment, and only 15% have hypertension under control. Women seem to do somewhat better than males in getting the illness identified, treated, and managed. According to a research published in February 2022, stroke incidence was estimated to be 108–172 per 100,000 persons per year based on shaky data from some regions of India, and the one-month case fatality rate was 18%–42%. According to the Global Burden of Disease study, India’s greatest cause of death and disability in 2019 was heart attack.
Studies have revealed that between 17% and 30% of hypertension can be attributed to excessive salt consumption (more than five grams per day). India has yet to put many of the recommendations made by the WHO to reduce salt intake into practice, even though member States are obliged to achieve a 30% relative decrease in mean population intake of salt by 2025. High salt and sugar content was discovered in packaged food items, according to a 2021 study conducted in four Indian States.
It is vitally necessary to make front-of-pack nutrition labeling mandatory, promote food reformulation to reduce salt, and increase public awareness of the need to reduce salt intake. The innovative India Hypertension management Initiative (IHCI) has helped India achieve well in terms of increasing blood pressure management in patients with hypertension. Launched in 2018, as of June 2023, the IHCI had successfully registered 5.8 million hypertension patients for treatment throughout 27 States. It is significant that, as of March 2021, 55% of patients enrolled in health wellness centres and 48% of patients registered in basic health centres have successfully controlled their blood pressure. In order to maintain blood pressure under control, it is now crucial to significantly increase the number of hypertensive patients receiving therapy.
Dr. Abhishek Verma