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India’s first district-level study on hypertension

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    3rd Nov, 2023

Context:

Recently, a district-wise analysis on hypertension has been conducted which flags disparities in care in India.

  • Also, according to a recent WHO report, 3 million people in India suffer from hypertension but only 37% get diagnosed, only 30% start treatment, and only 15% manage to keep their blood pressure under control.

About the study:

  • It is the first time that data on hypertension was analysed district-wise.
  • Published by: The district-level study, published in JAMA Network, a journal published by the American Medical Association, was conducted by AIIMS Delhi and scientists from Europe and the US who used the hypertension data from NFHS-5, the fifth round report of which was released in May 2022.
  • A dashboard was created as a part of the study and has gender-wise, area-wise educational levels data on hypertension.
  • Significance:
    • The district-wise level analysis was important as the many state-level analyses done earlier did not highlight “the heterogeneity” within states, even those considered better-performing states.
    • And with the new dashboard, every district can now analyses their data according to gender and socio-demographic disparities.

Key Findings

  • The study estimated that at least 6 million deaths in India can be prevented by 2040 if half of those with the condition manage to keep their blood pressure under control.
  • In Karnataka, four districts — Chikmagalur, Shimoga, Udupi and Chitradurga — have a similar prevalence of hypertension, but the proportion of participants diagnosed and treated in Chikmagalur and Udupi was higher.
  • In Meghalaya, the five districts of Garo Hills, the two districts of Jaintia Hills and the three districts of Khasi Hills all have a similar prevalence of hypertension, but the proportion of those diagnosed is much lower in Garo Hills than in Jaintia Hills and Khasi Hills.
  • More significantly, the study found, there were substantial variations across districts in;
    • Blood pressure diagnosis (range: 6.3%-77.5%),
    • Treatment (range: 8.7%-97.1%) and
    • Control (range: 2.7%-76.6%).
  • Raising a red flag, the researchers said that the national mean values of hypertension “hide considerable” variation at the district level.

Recommendations:               

  • The findings of the study showed that despite health being a state subject, there was a need for more autonomy at the district level.
  • Another key finding of the study was the importance of screening hypertension and diabetes using local healthcare workers, including ASHA workers.
  • It highlighted the urgent need for a more “targeted” approach to fight the medical condition often referred to as the “silent killer”.
  • It recommended a critical public health strategy to improve care — “targeted, decentralised solutions” at the district level.

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