Deccan Chronicle

Left undetected, hypertension is a silent killer, caution experts

Deccan Chronicle.| Maddy Deekshith

Published on: February 20, 2023 | Updated on: February 21, 2023
Hypertension is asyptomatic and can remain undetected unless regularly screened. (Photo: AP)

Hypertension is asyptomatic and can remain undetected unless regularly screened. (Photo: AP)

HYDERABAD: Making use of the platform provided by the recently held golden jubilee celebrations of Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine Conference (IAPSMCON), doctors and top public health experts gave a clarion call for a joint and accelerated action to counter the perils of uncontrolled hypertension.

Non-communicable diseases and their various risk factors have emerged as a primary concern which doctors discussed during the three-day conference, ‘Introspection and innovation in public health:  One health one planet’, which was jointly organised by All India Institute of Medicine (AIIMS), Bibinagar, and National Institute of Nutrition (NIN).

Terming it as the top risk factor for sudden and premature deaths if left untreated, speakers, ranging from doctors and senior officials to civil society, pledged to deliver an action plan that could be an effective remedial measure.

Hypertension is asyptomatic and can remain undetected unless regularly screened. Although it hardly involves major expenditure, treatment adherence of this condition is very poor in the country. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 5, only about seven per cent women and six per cent men, who have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, are on regular medication.
Dr Pradeep Aggarwal, additional professor, department of community & family medicine, AIIMS Rishikesh, said, "Given that over 50 crore Indians rely on primary health care, public health facilities must shoulder the responsibility of ensuring that people’s BP levels are under control. Greater awareness is necessary and all stakeholders must join the fight against the dangerous underlying condition."

If left untreated hypertension can result in sudden stroke, cause heart attack and chronic kidney diseases.

Dr Manohar Agnani, former additional secretary, health ministry, emphasised the productivity loss associated with lack of hypertension control.

"By simply controlling BP, the Union government can reduce its costs on NCD management. Since untreated BP increases chances of premature death of disability, this could lead to a financial catastrophe. To convey a sense of urgency to all stakeholders, we must also calculate the economic import of hypertension control," he said.

The thrust was evolving a convergent action plan for a future-ready public health strategy.

A multi-sectoral discussion on hypertension was in the spotlight since one in four Indians suffers from this condition and a large percentage remain unaware and untreated.

At a high-level plenary discussion on ‘Multi-sectoral involvement for care and control of hypertension in India’, the participants highlighted the need to urgently rein in the silent epidemic.

Dr Sudarshan Mandal, deputy director general, NPCDCS, said, "The national programme for prevention and control of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and stroke (NPCDCS) has been prioritising treatment of chronic conditions. We are strengthening infrastructure throughout the country and making hypertension treatment available to every needy person besides ensuring treatment adherence. The India hypertension control initiative (IHCI) is one of our action plans to make that happen."

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