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Review Article

Trends in hypertension epidemiology in India


Cardiovascular diseases caused 2.3 million deaths in India in the year 1990; this is projected to double by the year 2020. Hypertension is directly responsible for 57% of all stroke deaths and 24% of all coronary heart disease deaths in India. Indian urban population studies in the mid-1950s used older WHO guidelines for diagnosis (BP 160 and/or 95 mmHg) and reported hypertension prevalence of 1.2–4.0%. Subsequent studies report steadily increasing prevalence from 5% in 1960s to 12–15% in 1990s. Hypertension prevalence is lower in the rural Indian population, although there has been a steady increase over time here as well. Recent studies using revised criteria (BP 140 and/or 90 mmHg) have shown a high prevalence of hypertension among urban adults: men 30%, women 33% in Jaipur (1995), men 44%, women 45% in Mumbai (1999), men 31%, women 36% in Thiruvananthapuram (2000), 14% in Chennai (2001), and men 36%, women 37% in Jaipur (2002). Among the rural populations, hypertension prevalence is men 24%, women 17% in Rajasthan (1994). Hypertension diagnosed by multiple examinations has been reported in 27% male and 28% female executives in Mumbai (2000) and 4.5% rural subjects in Haryana (1999). There is a strong correlation between changing lifestyle factors and increase in hypertension in India. The nature of genetic contribution and gene–environment interaction in accelerating the hypertension epidemic in India needs more studies. Pooling of epidemiological studies shows that hypertension is present in 25% urban and 10% rural subjects in India. At an underestimate, there are 31.5 million hypertensives in rural and 34 million in urban populations. A total of 70% of these would be Stage I hypertension (systolic BP 140–159 and/or diastolic BP 90–99 mmHg). Recent reports show that borderline hypertension (systolic BP 130–139 and/or diastolic BP 85–89 mmHg) and Stage I hypertension carry a significant cardiovascular risk and there is a need to reduce this blood pressure. Population-based cost-effective hypertension control strategies should be developed.

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Gupta, R. Trends in hypertension epidemiology in India. J Hum Hypertens 18, 73–78 (2004).

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  • epidemic
  • high blood pressure
  • hypertension
  • India

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