High blood pressure or hypertension kills nearly 1.5 million people every year in South-East Asia making it the single-most important risk factor for non communicable diseases like heart attack and stroke,according to the World Health Organisation.
Every individual has the power to prevent high blood pressure by adopting a healthy lifestyle — eating a balanced diet,reducing salt,regular exercise,avoiding harmful use of alcohol,quitting tobacco and checking their blood pressure regularly, says Dr Samlee Plianbangchang,WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia.
The WHO is raising the alarm about high blood pressure on World Health Day 2013 which fell on April 7 this year.
In India,among adults one in three was found to have a raised blood pressure and about half of them remained undetected during WHO surveys.
The number of hypertensives in India was expected to nearly double from 118 million in 2000 to 213 million by 2025. However,recently we estimated that among those aged 25 years in 2013,there are already about 199 million hypertensives currently (103 million men and 96 million women).
In addition,many more have pre-hypertension; a precursor condition which if left unaddressed will convert to hypertension in about 4 years. Another recent analysis of global data also indicated an increase in hypertension in developing countries like India compared to declines in most developed countries, says Dr Sailesh Mohan,Senior Research Scientist and Associate Professor at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI).
He further added that hypertension prevalence in adults had risen dramatically across India over the past three decades from about 5 per cent in certain rural and urban communities to between 20 per cent-40 per cent in urban areas and 12 per cent-17 per cent in rural areas.
A number of reasons most important the influence of rapid urbanistation has resulted in profound changes in people’s lifestyles leading to increased consumption of unhealthy diets (diets high in calorie,sugar,salt and fat,and low in vegetables and fruits),reduced physical activity levels due to mechanization of work and motorization.
In addition,being overweight,alcohol and tobacco use are also other major contributing risks. With these non desirable lifestyle changes increasingly penetrating rural areas we are observing a narrowing of this difference, says Mohan.