Indian Health Ministry has decided to dedicate a particular day of each year to highlight the dangers of hypertension, the silent killer that is growing nationwide at an alarming rate. The World Health Organisation (WHO) figures show that hypertension accounts for 7 percent of disability adjusted life years worldwide, and 9.4 million deaths annually.
Speaking at the 23rd Annual Conference of the Hypertension Society of India (HSICON) here on Saturday, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister, said that he was preparing the Ministry to meet the growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCD) and added that Hypertension, diabetes, cancers, and coronary artery disease are projected by WHO as the biggest gnawers of the public health budget in the next decade.
Dr Harsh Vardan noted that the roots of most NCDs, including hypertension, lie in the sedentary lifestyle, and that more resources than before would be used for raising public awareness on preventive measures and early diagnosis. He said declaring a certain day of each year as “National Hypertension Day” would help awareness of the NCDs.
The minister said that he hopes to marshal the synergies of organisations in the medical field into making National Hypertension Day a platform for intensive dialogue between government and patient, pharmaceutical companies and patient, lifestyle gurus and patient and to highlight the dangers of consuming junk food, alcohol consumption and smoking, physical inactivity, as well as the importance of Yoga for both prevention and management of hypertension.
Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the loss to the economy should not be measured only by the drain on the public health system caused by hypertension, but also in terms of the productivity loss because hypertension strikes a human being during the most productive years and emasculates the ability to deliver to one’s fullest potential.
He announced plans to give a push to both into hypertension research and free treatment or management under the public health system. “A three-pronged plan is conceptualised. First, by raising awareness of prevention and early diagnosis among the largely youthful population, we hope to bring down the number of undiagnosed hypertensive patients over the next five years.
Secondly, the Government will deploy funds for research into personalised treatment which is the major area of research worldwide into the development of medicines for this condition. And, thirdly, the government health system will be fitted out with departments for individualised treatment of patients,” the Minister said.
He elaborated that the effect of hypertension on the heart, kidneys and eyes that creates additional burden on the treatment and the government system, and as a solution recognises the need for promoting Yoga, backed up by a culture of having periodic check-ups. Hypertension is the leading NCD risk and estimated to be attributable for nearly 10 percent of all deaths in India.
Adult hypertension prevalence has risen dramatically over the past three decades from 5 per cent to between 20-40 per cent in urban areas and 12-17 per cent in rural areas and most people are not aware that they are suffering from hypertension until it is too late.
The number of hypertensive individuals is anticipated to nearly double from 118 million in 2000 to 213 million by 2025. It is estimated that 16 per cent of ischemic heart disease, 21 per cent of peripheral vascular disease, 24 per cent of acute myocardial infarctions and 29 per cent of strokes are attributable to hypertension.
This emphasises the huge impact effective hypertension prevention and control can have on reducing the rising burden of cardiovascular disease.