The silent killer

Symptoms of hypertension rarely show, and an increasing number of children, adolescents across India are falling victim to it

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Saturday 06 April 2013

  • A staggering 139 million people in India suffer from uncontrolled hypertension, and their number is growing every year.

  • According to the World Health Organization (WHO) report released in 2012, raised blood pressure in India increased from 5 per cent in 1960 to nearly 12 per cent in 1990. It further increased to 30 per cent in 2008; a significant number of people afflicted were in their 20s.

  • The study found that elevated blood pressure or hypertension in adults aged 25 and above was around 40 per cent. Around 139 million people in the country were suffering from high blood pressure at the end of 2008, which accounted for 14 per cent of the global burden of the disease.

  • Cardiovascular diseases caused 2.3 million deaths in India in the year 1990; this number is likely to double by 2020.

  • Hypertension is directly responsible for 57 per cent of all stroke deaths and 24 per cent of all coronary heart disease deaths in India. This was revealed in a review article written by R Gupta, which was published in Journal of Human Hypertension, in 2004 shows how serious the problem is.

  • The article said the situation in India is alarming: of the 9.4 million deaths in India in 1990, cardiovascular diseases accounted for 2.3 million deaths (about 25 per cent).

  • A total of 1.2 million deaths were due to coronary heart disease and 0.5 million due to stroke. It has been predicted that by 2020, there would be a 111 per cent increase in cardiovascular deaths in India.

  • This increase is much more than 77 per cent for China, 106 per cent for other Asian countries and 15 per cent for economically developed countries.

  • Padma Vibhushan awarded cardiologist Purushottam Lal says hypertension is a silent killer as its symptoms rarely show, and most cases go undiagnosed.

  • The disease kills 7.5 million people worldwide each year, which is more than AIDS, road accidents, diabetes and tuberculosis together.

  • Lal adds that an increasing number healthy children and adolescents across India are being diagnosed with hypertension, which is an alarming problem.

  • The increase in hypertension is related to rising population-mean systolic blood, sedentary lifestyle, psychological stress, salt and alcohol consumption and obesity.


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