Even as it is known that hypertension affects a large numbers of people in India, very few people actually acknowledge that they have high blood pressure. Fewer among them get their blood pressure checked regularly, a new study says.
The study, “Control of Hypertension in Rural India” aims to estimate prevalence, awareness and treatment of hypertension and identify barriers to hypertension control in rural communities in India. It is funded by the Global Alliance for Chronic Disease (GACD) and the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) and aims to develop strategies to better manage hypertension in rural communities.
Research done earlier by The George Institute for Global Health in rural Andhra Pradesh found that 29% of the adult population had hypertension and of these only 44% were being treated.
Hypertension is a condition in which the blood pressure is elevated to a level at or above 140/90 mmHg. This medical condition is called a silent killer as it does not show any clear symptoms, however, severe hypertension shows some symptoms such as headaches, sleepiness, palpitations, blurred vision, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, ringing sensation in the ears, breathing difficulty, or irregular heartbeat which may lead to even stroke.
“Very little is known about the emergence of hypertension in rural India, where 70% of the Indian population still resides,’’ says Dr Pallab Maulik, Deputy Director, Research and Development at the George Institute for Global Health India, in a statement issued to mark the World Hypertension Day. Dr Maulik recommends that while people should get their blood pressure checked regularly and wonders what prevents them from doing so.
There is some evidence that barriers to hypertension control differ according to the stage of transition of the population. “An improved understanding of the awareness of hypertension in different settings and the barriers to prevention, diagnosis and treatment will provide the critical knowledge base we need to overcome these barriers in these differing settings,’’ Dr Maulik adds.
The study is part of a larger co-ordinated funding effort by member organizations of the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD) on hypertension prevention and control in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) that focuses on implementing effective approaches to control high blood pressure through community-based research projects.
Government funded agencies including the Indian Council of Medical Research, is a member of the GACD. Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council, one of the member organizations of GACD, is supporting five of these projects, the statement says.
Each research project is conducted through a partnership between investigators in a high-income country institution and investigators in LMIC.
The study is being done in collaboration with Monash University, The George Institute for Global Health India and Australia, Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology, Rishi Valley Rural Health Centre and Christian Medical College Vellore. It is being conducted in areas around Trivandrum and rural communities in Chittoor and West Godavari districts in Andhra Pradesh. The study in the West Godavari area is being led by The George Institute.