Half of Indians unaware of their hypertension status and have not received a diagnosis

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine Comments Off

The condition is a silent killer and damages other organs over time

New Delhi, 14th May 2019: According to a recent study, only 3 out of 4 individuals in India with hypertension have ever had their blood pressure measured. Only about 45% had been diagnosed, and only 8% of those surveyed had their blood pressure under control. More than half the number of Indians aged 15 to 49 years with hypertension were not aware of their hypertension status. The awareness level was lowest in Chhattisgarh (22.1%) and highest in Puducherry (80.5%).[1]

Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of death in India. It is defined as a repeatedly elevated blood pressure exceeding 140/90 mmHg. Hypertension generally doesn’t cause any outward signs or symptoms but silently damages blood vessels, and other organs. There is a need to create awareness about the fact that hypertension is not a disease but a sign that something is wrong in the body.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “The prevalence of hypertension in Indian adults has shown a drastic increase in the past three decades in urban as well as rural areas. It is important to get an annual checkup done after the age of 30 even if you have no family history of hypertension, are not diabetic or don’t have any other lifestyle-related disorder. For those in the high-risk category, a checkup is advised every month. Hypertension can be prevented provided a person makes necessary lifestyle changes right at the outset. It is also imperative to spread the message of prevention and encourage people across various age groups to check their blood pressure at regular intervals.”

Some signs and symptoms of hypertension include dizziness, shortness of breath, headaches, fatigue, and sometimes chest pain, palpitations, and nosebleeds.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “High blood pressure imposes an up-front burden in people who know they have it and who are working to control it. It adds to worries about health. It alters what you eat and how active you are, since a low-sodium diet and exercise are important ways to help keep blood pressure in check. Some people need medication and may need to take one or more pills a day, which can be a costly hassle.”

Some tips from HCFI.

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight for your height
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Limit sodium intake to under 2,300 milligrams a day (one teaspoon of salt) and get plenty of potassium (at least 4,700 mg per day) from fruits and vegetables
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all
  • Reduce stress
  • Monitor your blood pressure regularly, and work with your doctor to keep it in a healthy range

[1] Research published in PLOS Medicine, and carried out by researchers at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Heidelberg Institute of Global Health, the University of Birmingham and the University of Gottingen.

Treat dental infections and badly aligned teeth to prevent oral cancer: HCFI

Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine, Social Health Community Comments Off

Non-smokers with poor oral hygiene have an equal risk of acquiring the condition

New Delhi, 11th May 2019: Statistics indicate that dental causative factors for mouth cancers are seen in about 4% to 5% oral cancer cases. While tobacco chewing and smoking remain the main cause of oral cancers, bad dental hygiene with sharp or broken teeth that irritate the internal area of the mouth are among the causes of mouth cancers in people who do not smoke or chew tobacco. The continuous chronic irritation of the skin inside the mouth or the tongue caused by such teeth may trigger cancer.

Estimates indicate that lip and oral cancer cases in India have more than doubled in the last six years. It is imperative to attend to bad dental hygiene, broken, sharp or irregularly aligned teeth immediately to prevent the condition.

Speaking about Padma Shri Awardee Dr K K Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Use of tobacco can cause oral precancerous lesions such as oral submucous fibrosis, which can put the user at risk of developing oral cancer. Apart from this it can also predispose the user to other infections in the mouth. In India, the use of smokeless tobacco (SLT) remains the dominant cause of tobacco-attributable diseases, including cancer of the oral cavity (mouth), esophagus (food pipe) and pancreas. SLT not only causes adverse health effects but also accounts for a huge economic burden.”

Some other risk factors for oral cancer include a weakened immune system, a family history of oral or other types of cancer, being male, human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, prolonged sun exposure, age, poor oral hygiene, poor diet or nutrition, etc.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Use of SLT mixed with areca nut is a common practice in India and as stated in the beginning, betel quid and gutka, the two most commonly used forms of SLT have areca nut as a common ingredient. Areca nut itself is classified as a class one carcinogenic, that is, having cancer-causing properties, besides other adverse health effects.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • Do not use tobacco. If you are a user, take immediate steps to quit.
  • Consume alcohol in moderation
  • Avoid prolonged exposure to the sun – use lip balms with SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Eat a healthy diet, including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, while avoiding or limiting the intake of junk and processed food.
  • Try short-acting nicotine replacement therapy as things such as lozenges, nicotine gums, etc.
  • Identify the trigger situation, which makes you smoke. Have a plan in place to avoid these or get through them alternatively.
  • Chew on sugarless gum or hard candy, or munch raw carrots, celery, nuts or sunflower seeds instead of tobacco.
  • Get physically active. Short bursts of physical activity such as running up and down the stairs a few times can make a tobacco craving go away.

India faces the dual burden of obesity and malnutrition: HCFI

Health Care Comments Off

Increasing obesity levels in rural India a cause for concern

New Delhi, 10th May 2019: Obesity is increasing more rapidly in the world’s rural areas than in cities, according to a study of global trends in body-mass index (BMI). The study, published in the journal Nature, analysed the height and weight data of over 112 million adults across urban and rural areas of 200 countries and territories between 1985 and 2017. The prevalence of obesity in India is increasing and ranges from 8% to 38% in rural and 13% to 50% in urban areas.

Rural areas in low- and middle-income countries have seen shifts towards higher incomes, better infrastructure, more mechanized agriculture and increased car use. These factors not only bring numerous health benefits, but also lead to lower energy expenditure and to more spending on food, which can be processed and low-quality when sufficient regulations are not in place. The need of the hour is large-scale awareness on the importance of healthy eating patterns.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Obesity is the mother of conditions such as diabetes and heart problems. India faces a dual burden. On the one hand is malnutrition and on the other is obesity. What makes obesity in India different from the rest of the world is that in our country, it is marked by the ‘Thin-Fat Indian Phenotype’. This means that there is a higher proportion of people with body fat, abdominal obesity, and visceral fat, in comparison with Caucasian and European counterparts. Hence, world obesity generally reported in terms of waist circumference, and a BMI beyond 30, significantly underestimates the prevalence of obesity in India. Indian obesity needs to be estimated according to a lower threshold of BMI 25. Additionally, even a normal BMI of up to 23, might show higher instances of isolated abdominal obesity.”

Two primary culprits of obesity include a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating patterns. The consumption of processed food has increased manifold. This, combined with untimely working patterns and lack of physical activity, make the situation worse.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “The traditional Indian diet is rich in carbohydrates. People consume large quantities of rice, rotis, and even bread. Apart from this, there is widespread availability of fried and unhealthy fast food today, which are all contributors to empty calories in the diet. Indians are caught amidst all this and therefore, the increase in the prevalence of obesity does not come as a surprise.”

Some tips from HCFI

  • The key to weight loss is reducing how many calories you take in.
  • The concept of energy density can help you satisfy your hunger with fewer calories.
  • To make your overall diet healthier, eat more plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole-grain carbohydrates.
  • Make exercise an important part of your daily routine. Start slow and increase the duration as you go along.

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