Hypertension continues to be one of the world’s most significant health problems, and its prevalence has grown significantly in developing countries in the recent past. It is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries (blood vessels) is elevated. Lifestyle factors are the most important contributors, as well as genetic characteristics. An estimated one billion people are living with high blood pressure worldwide.
The disease is primary classified into two categories—primary or essential hypertension and secondary hypertension. In the primary or essential group, there is no underlying cause, whereas secondary hypertension is a result of an underlying cause or another disease. In most cases, the essential hypertension remains undiagnosed for a long time, leading to morbidity and mortality in the later and advanced stages of the disease.
Hypertension is one of the most important contributors to heart disease and stroke—which together represent the number one cause of premature death and disability worldwide. It is estimated that high blood pressure contributes to nearly 9.4 million deaths globally from cardiovascular disease each year. High blood pressure also increases the risk of conditions such as kidney failure and blindness.
Early detection is the key to managing high blood pressure and must be done through regular monitoring. If the condition is diagnosed early, then complications can be avoided with the help of treatment and dietary factors. In order to reduce the risk of developing the disease, it is essential to eat a balanced diet with a permissible amount of salt, to engage in physical activity and to be careful with tobacco and alcohol consumption.
Hypertension is a top health priority. Proper education about the disease, regular monitoring and early detection are of great importance. The World Health Organization (WHO) therefore has intensified its efforts for monitoring and detection. Today, April 7th 2013, is World Health Day, and to mark the occasion, all adults are encouraged to measure their blood pressure and know their status. Similarly, a number of educational activities on hypertension are being organized.
GRAVIS has been organizing health talks on hypertension in rural communities through its hospital and field offices. The idea is to provide basic knowledge to people so that they can understand the disease and associated risks. In the proposed research study—Self Care for Older People (SCOPE), GRAVIS is going to study the prevalence and patterns of hypertension for older people in India, along with diabetes.
With the growing burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in all parts of the world, cutting down on hypertension is a key challenge. Prevent the disease and its complications through monitoring and self-care.
*Dr. Prakash Tyagi, Executive Director