In what could be termed as the most alarming health update for India, a new study has revealed that around 200 million people in the country have high blood pressure. China tops the list with 226 million people suffering from high blood pressure.
In fact, it also revealed across the world, the number of people with high blood pressure has reached 1.13 billion and has nearly doubled in the last 40 years.
Imperial College, London conducted the study along with Healis Sekhsaria Institute for Public Health, Navi Mumbai, India and was published in The Lancet, a medical journal.
The research is the largest ever study of its kind as it involved World Health Organisation (WHO) and hundreds of scientists throughout the world. It incorporated blood pressure measurements from nearly 20 million people and the team studied changes in blood pressure in every country between 1975 and 2015.
Findings of the study showed that while blood pressure has dropped sharply in high-income countries, it has risen in many low and middle-income countries, especially those in South Asia.
Professor Majid Ezzati, senior author of the study at the School of Public Health at Imperial, said poor nutrition in childhood in low income countries may have played a vital role in the findings.
“Increasing evidence suggests poor nutrition in early life years increases risk of high blood pressure in later life, which may explain the growing problem in poor countries,” he explained.
The research, funded by the Wellcome Trust, also revealed men had higher blood pressure than women in most countries in the world in 2015. Globally, 597 million men had high blood pressure, compared to 529 million women.
High blood pressure puts extra strain on the blood vessels and major organs such as heart, brain and kidneys. It is the world’s leading cause of cardiovascular disease, which leads to stroke and heart attacks. It is thought to cause 7.5 million deaths a year across the globe.
The team explained the condition is caused by a number of factors including dietary influences, such as eating too much salt and not enough fruit and vegetables, obesity, insufficient exercise and some environmental factors such as lead exposure and air pollution. The condition is more common in older ages.
“In addition to measures for primary and secondary prevention of hypertension, in the management of high blood pressure, a strong emphasis needs to be placed on addressing tobacco use in any form. The Mumbai Cohort Study follow-up data has clearly shown that for the same level of blood pressure, mortality rates due to circulatory disorders are substantially higher in tobacco users compared to non-users,” said Dr Prakash Gupta, Director, Healis Sekhsaria Institute, which contributed data of about 150,000 individuals to the Lancet study.
He added that adequate measures to tackle the huge problem of high blood pressure are essential to achieve WHO’s target of reducing proportion of people with high blood pressure by 25 per cent by 2025.