By Express News Service

India is facing a massive hypertension epidemic, with 200 million individuals affected and a high prevalence of diabetes. The Union Health Ministry has launched an ambitious "75/25" plan to bring 75 million hypertensive and diabetic populations under standard care by 2025, marking the largest effort in the world against Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).

What is Hypertension?
Hypertension is characterised by abnormally high blood pressure that exerts excessive force on artery walls. It is typically defined as blood pressure above 140/90, with severe cases exceeding 180/120.

Although often symptomless, people with very high blood pressure can experience severe headaches, chest pain, dizziness, difficulty breathing, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision or other vision changes, anxiety, buzzing in the ears, nosebleeds, and abnormal heart rhythm.

Only 12% of India’s estimated 200 million hypertensive individuals have their blood pressure under control, highlighting the critical need for effective treatment. Hypertension is the leading cause of adult deaths, placing strain on the heart and causing thickening of the left ventricle. This significantly raises the risk of heart attack, heart failure, and sudden cardiac death.

Why are Indians More Susceptible?
Multiple factors, including the sodium-rich Indian diet, genetic predisposition, socioeconomic factors, and lifestyle choices, influence India’s high hypertension prevalence. Studies indicate that nearly 30% of the Indian population is affected by hypertension, emphasising its significant health impact.

Young Indians in Hypertension Vortex
Hypertension is increasing among young adults in India, with a prevalence ranging from 10% to 30%, as reported by healthcare professionals. Risk factors such as smoking, mental stress, and obesity contribute to this concerning trend.

Despite a high prevalence of hypertension in India, awareness and treatment levels are low. Approximately 33% of urban and 25% of rural Indians have hypertension, but only a quarter of rural patients and around 42% of urban Indians are aware of their condition. Treatment rates are suboptimal, with only 25% of rural and 38% of urban Indians receiving treatment. Many individuals are unaware of the strain on their hearts due to inadequate condition management.

India aims to address the hypertension problem by 2025 through the India Hypertension Control Initiative (IHCI). The government plans to reach 75 million people with hypertension and has begun training primary healthcare professionals. They also use the Shashakt Portal to improve screening, diagnosis, and treatment rates.

The Way Forward
Collaboration among healthcare providers, policymakers, community organisations, and individuals is crucial for promoting a healthy lifestyle and managing hypertension effectively.

— Text by Ketan Narottam Tanna and Kavita Bajeli Datt

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